May 23, 2013
Messi leads Argentina to a victory over Portugal
Lionel Messi set up one goal and scored another from the spot to give Argentina a 2-1 win over Portugal in an entertaining friendly with Cristiano Ronaldo replying.
Messi produced a trademark run on 14 minutes, bringing the ball in from the right wing and beating Raul Meireles to feed Di María in the box for the winger to open the scoring with a diagonal shot.
Portugal responded well and leveled seven minutes later when striker Hugo Almeida headed on Joao Pereira's cross and the lively Ronaldo reacted more sharply than keeper Sergio Romero to toe-poke in the equalizer.
Both sides came close in the second half, with Portugal's Almeida wasting three fine chances and Marcos Rojo and Javier Pastore coming close for the Argentines before Messi converted a late penalty after Coentrao fouled Juan Manuel Martínez.
Ronaldo, who was a constant threat throughout his 60 minutes on the pitch, almost grabbed a second moments after scoring, leading a counter-attack and shrugging off Javier Mascherano to fire a low shot that missed the target after a deflection.
Argentina re-composed themselves and came close to taking the lead again in the 39th minute when left back Marcos Rojo pushed forward to produce a fine cross which Ezequiel Lavezzi wasted by sending his half-volley over Eduardo's bar.
Portugal's strong spell after half time should have given them the lead but Almeida sent one header over, another against the bar and then somehow sent an easy tap-in wide.
Argentina looked dangerous after Ronaldo was replaced on the hour and Messi sent in a perfect free kick for Pastore, but the substitute's header crashed against the Portuguese bar five minutes before the final whistle.
Portugal: Eduardo; José Bosingwa, Ricardo Carvalho, Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrao; Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles, Carlos Martins; Nani, Helder Postiga, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Argentina: Sergio Romero; Javier Zanetti, Nicolás Burdisso, Gabriel Milito and Marcos Rojo; Ever Banega, Javier Mascherano and Esteban Cambiasso; Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lionel Messi and Angel Di María.
MESSI vs. RONALDO
World Cups: 2006, 2010
Best WC finish: Quarter-Final
World Cups: 2006, 2010
Best WC finish: Semi-Final
Spanish La Liga season stats
* Penalties: 2
* Free kicks: 1
* First goals: 8
* Penalties: 5
* Free kicks: 2
* First goals: 5
Total Shots (On target)
Messi: 93 (55)
Ronaldo: 165 (61)
Messi: 1353 (team total: 17,056)
Ronaldo: 1013 (team total: 12,316)
Messi: 1129 (team total: 14,946)
Ronaldo: 719 (team total: 9917)