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Nigeria Falls to Argentina in Saturday World Cup Match

  • Sonny Young

Argentina has beaten Nigeria, 1-0, in the first match for both teams at the 2010 FIFA World Cup football finals in South Africa.

The game's only goal came just six minutes into the match. Gabriel Heinze, a defender who plays for the French club Marseille, scored on a header off a corner kick. Two-time World Cup champion Argentina controlled play through much of the first half.

Superstar Lionel Messi, who many football fans consider the best player in the world, was a threat throughout the match. The Barcelona star sliced through the Nigerian defense on numerous occasions, and had a half dozen shots on goal. In the 80th minute, Messi's shot from point blank range was stopped by Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who made several outstanding saves.

Nigeria's Swedish coach, Lars Lagerback, made three substitutions in the second half, and the team's attack picked up as it sought the equalizer. Peter Odemwingie, a striker who is based in Russia with the club Lokomotiv Moscow, had some nice runs down the pitch, while another substitute, Kalu Uche, had a good scoring opportunity in the 82nd minute.

But, at the final whistle, the score remained Argentina one, Nigeria nil. A crowd of almost 56,000 attended the match here at Ellis Park, one of two World Cup venues in Johannesburg. The other, Soccer City, was the venue for Friday's opening match between Mexico and host South Africa, which ended in a one-all draw.

In Saturday's first match, played at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, South Korea defeated Greece, 2-0. The South Koreans got goals in each half from Lee Jung Soo and Park Ji Sung. South Korea and Argentina now top the Group B table with three points each. Those two teams will play each other June 17th in their next match at Soccer City Stadium here in Johannesburg. That same day, Nigeria will go against Greece at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

The 32 World Cup teams are divided into eight groups of four each. They each play three first round games. The top two teams in each group will advance to the World Cup's knockout phase, which begins June 26.

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