Argentina just too good for Singapore
Argentina coach Sampaoli happy with the performance of Dybala and Co.
|(Federico Fazio 25, Joaquin Correa 31, Alejandro Gomez 61, Leandro Paredes 74, Lucas Alario 90, Angel di Maria 90+3)|
No Messi, no problem.
Argentina still had enough star power to thrill 28,044 fans at the National Stadium last night, after they eased to a 6-0 win over Singapore in an international friendly match to commemorate the Football Association of Singapore's 125th anniversary.
There cannot be much for Singapore football to celebrate, however, on a night where the Lions were thoroughly outplayed by the world No. 2 visitors, who were cheered on by most of the Singaporeans - many of whom donned Argentina jerseys - in the stadium.
The South American side's five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi had skipped the match to go home and prepare for his wedding.
Still, the visitors were expected to rack up the goals against V Sundramoorthy's Lions, ranked 157th in the world.
For all the pre-match suggestion that Argentina would assert their dominance with an ultra-attacking 2-3-4-1 formation, they showed enough respect - restraint, perhaps - to line up with a conventional back four.
Their fullbacks, though, did not have much defending to do and bombed forward at every opportunity.
Led by Juventus' exciting forward Paulo Dybala and Paris St Germain star Angel di Maria, La Albiceleste dominated possession but appeared far from polished, with several misplaced passes and failed passing combinations.
It took a header by Tottenham Hotspur reject Federico Fazio to break the deadlock from a corner-kick in the 25th minute, before Sevilla striker Joaquin Correa doubled their lead after sweeping home Dybala's cross.
The difference in class and technical ability between the two teams were plain to see though. The Argentinians often left their Singaporean markers for dead with their mesmerising body feints.
Despite his side toiling in the first half, Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said he was satisfied with the showing.
FOCUS ON ATTACK
Responding to The New Paper's question, he said post-match: "We were looking for focus on attack and wanted to put pressure on our opponents.
"Our team could not score more, but the chances were there. I am happy with the performances and the team, because they managed to translate on the pitch everything I wanted."
Sampaoli's charges found the going easier in the second half, as the Singapore players began to tire - most of the team had fasted earlier in the day.
Atalanta winger Alejandro Gomez fired home from the edge of the box to make it 3-0, before AS Roma midfielder Leandro Paredes picked his spot and curled home the fourth.
With seconds to go in regulation time, Lucas Alario crashed home a fifth off the upright, before di Maria put the exclamation mark on the victory by turning home from close range with a balletic drag after the ball was played behind him.
The loud cheers that reverberated around the stadium after the former Manchester United man found the net underscored just how much backing Argentina had from the local crowd.
At every Argentine corner-kick, spectators strained for a closer view of Dybala or di Maria. And, as early as the 85th minute, many bounded over seats to line up along barricades behind the Argentina bench, hoping to get an autograph or picture.
The adoration for the visitors was not lost on Singapore coach Sundram.
When asked about the majority of fans backing the Lions' opponents, the coach said: "That is football.
"(The fans) watch them on TV, they idolise these players, so they come to watch them. That's the game."
The Singapore-Argentina friendly, which was held to commemorate the Football Association of Singapore’s 125th anniversary, pulled in 28,044 fans to the National Stadium last night.