Polokwane: Argentina powered their way to the last 16 with their third straight win against Greece in their Group B clash at Polokwane.
Greece defense however was resilient and kept the South Americans waiting until the 77th minute when Martin Demichelis broke the Greece defense and scored the first goal for Argentina. Palermo doubled the score after 11 minutes, just one minute before full time.
Maradona had rested several players coming into the match. Captain Mascherano was not playing and Messi was leading the side. Their regular strikers Carlos Tevez, their hatrick scorer in the previous match Gonzalo Higuain were not playing.
Gabriel Heinze, who scored the first goal for Argentina in the opening match was also missing from the starting XI.
In the first 45 minutes, Argentina came out well in the first half as expected. Sergio Aguero coming into the side, hit a left footed shot but his shot was
punched away by the goal keeper. Veron hit one thunderous long range shot which was punched over the cross bar by the Greece goal keeper, Alexandros Tzorvas.
Then Messi managed to squeeze out few shots but his shot was also denied by the goal keeper who was kept quite busy by the Argentine attack line.
Greece started well in the second half with Georgios Samaras getting a golden chance after he beat the defender but his left footed shot was just wide of the mark. A golden chance as Argentina defense was caught against the run of play. Samaras was perhaps not confident about going for the goal with his weaker left foot.
Greece were playing for the draw in the second half as they were bringing on more defensive players and trying to close down spaces for Argentina forwards to get a shot.
In the 69th minute Messi hit a free kick but his shot was denied by the Tzorvas who was world class throughout the match with his excellent saves.
Bolatti followed up with strike from the penalty box from a ball driven from the corner, but again Tzorvas was impressive and managed to catch the ball.
The Greeks continued to impress with their defensive play as Argentina kept on pressing for goals.
In the 77th minute Demichelis whacked his shot on goal to break the Greek defense and score Argentina's first goal of the match. A heart-breaking moment for Greece camp after so much hard work.
In the 86th minute, Messi hit a thunderous left foot strike and beat the goal keeper, but the fifa 2009 World Player of the year was denied by the bar. He has still not managed to find the netting in the tournament.
The Argentinians were pushing forward every time they got possession making those breath taking one touch passes, combining well and striving for their second goal.
In the 89th minute Martin Palermo doubled the lead for Argentina as Messi once again beat three defenders to hit a powerful drive but was denied by Tzorvas only to rebound to Palermo who hit an easy side-footed tap to find the netting. Palermo scored his 9th goal playing for Argentina.
Argentina have topped Group B and with current streak look a good side to make it to the final stages of the tournament