Argentina 2-1 United States: Just enough for dogged Albiceleste
In their opening game of the second round at the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004, Argentina were victorious over the United States. Without ever looking exceptional or in any great trouble, the Albicelestes have taken a big step towards the semi-finals.
"I am very happy with the way my players performed tonight," pronounced Fernando Larrañaga after the game. "We knew we were in for a tough game against a side with a no-nonsense style, but we also knew we had the ability to control the game. I think we did well, especially defensively, although we had a bit of a scare in the closing stages."
When Esteban Gonzalez struck Brett Philipps' right post in the very first minute, the USA knew they were in for a hard night. Deploying their tried and tested tactical system, sitting back, then hurting their opponents on the break, the Albicelestes immediately created a fair few chances, so it was no surprise when they took the lead through Giustozzi, who shot powerfully into the roof of the USA net (1-0, 5').
Too little too late for the States
Missing a key player in the injured Greg Howes, the USA fought as gamely as ever, and the rest of the first half was a relatively even contest. But Argentina clearly wanted to take a greater advantage into the break, and from a ten-metre free kick, Wilhelm fired past the American keeper (2-0, 20'). While the States had enjoyed the lion's share of possession (68%), it was Argentina who had made better use of the ball.
The same trend carried over into the second half, as the robust but unimaginative American strike force was repeatedly rebuffed by the resolute Argentine rearguard. The USA's sole chance fell to Lamar Beasley, but he shot straight at the Albiceleste keeper (32').
The final five minutes were pure mayhem, as the game opened up at both ends but somehow the ball contrived to stay out of the net. In a desperate last throw of the dice, USA coach Keith Tozer replaced his goalkeeper with an outfield player for the last 90 seconds. The bold tactic paid off in fine style when, with sixteen seconds remaining, Johnny Torres brought his side to within a goal of the Argentines (2-1, 40'). There was no time for them to go in search of another, however, and the Americans were defeated.
"I am disappointed, because we showed we could compete with this Argentina side," declared Keith Tozer after the game. "By conceding the first goal for the first time in the tournament, we made things tough for ourselves. I tried to be positive at half time and made a few adjustments but it wasn't enough. Our goal came too late in the day."