Diego Maradona’s first competitive match in charge of Argentina saw the South American powerhouses thrash Venezuela 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Buenos Aires.
The victory sees them close to within three points of group leaders Paraguay, who were beaten 2-0 by Uruguay, only their second defeat in 11 qualifying matches. Diego Forlan put Uruguay ahead in 27th minute with Diego Lugano scoring the second after the break. Paraguay have 23 points from 11 games, with Argentina on 19. Brazil, who are on 17 points, can jump into second spot with victory over Ecuador in a South American qualifying group match later on Sunday in Quito. Uruguay move up to fourth spot on 16 points. Maradona chose an attacking formation, with Lionel Messi taking the coveted number 10 jersey after the retirement from international football of Juan Roman Riquelme, who had a public spat with the new coach. Barcelona star Messi made the breakthrough in the 25th minute after a passing interchange with Carlos Tevez. Messi returned the compliment for Tevez to score the second just after the break Atletico Madrid pair Maxi Rodriguez (52nd) and Sergio Aguero (73rd) completed an easy victory. Maradona was delighted by the performance of his star strikers.
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“It was the perfect game, we kept the ball, we broke down the flanks and we had lots of scoring chances created by the shorties,” he told Reuters.com. Messi, Tevez and Aguero are all under 1.70 meters but Maradona says his team can play without a big target man. “I want to hear the response of those who want us to play with big strikers and pump high balls at them. “The boys knew when to wait for their moment and we scored the goals at exactly the right time. Venezuela have improved and it wasn’t easy to score four goals.” Maradona, who took over in last autumn last year from Alfio Basile, was given a rousing reception by the crowd at River Plate’s Monumental Stadium.