Argentina retains Olympic soccer title

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{image-argentiana soccer team_23082008.jpg}Beijing, Aug 23: Argentina became the first team in 40 years to successfully defend an Olympic soccer gold medal when they defeated Nigeria 1-0 on Saturday in Beijing.

Argentina won the gold in Athens in 2004, and the silver in 1996 when they were beaten in the final by Nigeria. No men's team has managed to successfully defend a soccer gold medal since Hungary in Mexico City in 1968. Argentina's Angel Di Maria's lone marker in the 58th minute proved to be the gold-medal winner for Argentina.The crowd roared every time the ball came to Lionel Messi, but Nigeria swarmed the Argentinian star every time he took possession of the ball.

Nigeria's Peter Odemwingie made a dangerous cross that somehow got through two Argentinian defenders in the 33nd minute.

Argentina pressed to get the ball out, but Nigeria kept it in and got the ball to their captain, Promise Issac. Issac mishandled the pass, which deflected high off of his leg and kept things even.

Argentina's Angel Di Maria had a big opportunity during the closing seconds of the first half. He tried to take Nigerian keeper Ambruse Vanzekin by surprise, but the alert Vanzekin knocked it wide.

Tempers flared as Lionel Messi and several Nigerian players shoved each other as the teams walked off the field after the first half, in which Argentina outshot Nigeria 5-3.

Messi spun and unleashed a left-foot strike in the 49th minute, but Vanzekin leapt and knocked it clear of the net.

Argentina's Di Maria finally gave his team the breakthrough after 57 minutes. Vanzekin came off his line to challenge the streaking Di Maria, leaving him the option of lifting the ball over his head.

Di Maria lobbed a high shot that found the back of the net and put Argentina up 1-0.

Nigeria came close to tying the game in the 84th minute, but Victor Anichebe couldn't get enough on the ball to edge it past Argentinian keeper Sergio Romero.

The Nigerians continuted to fight to even the score until the end of the game but couldn't find the back of the net, sealing the win for Argentina.

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