Argentina get home against gallant Australia

A goal four minutes into the second half by Martin Demichelis, has given Argentina a 1-0 win over a gallant Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground tonight.

A goal four minutes into the second half by Martin Demichelis, has given Argentina a 1-0 win over a gallant Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground tonight.

Despite going into the match with as many as six key players missing, Australia put up a spirited performance against a near full strength Argentinean team that was playing its last match before its 2010 World Cup qualifiers start next month.

Just over 70,000 fans got to witness the mercurial skills of Argentina-s Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez, but it was a player making just his fourth appearances for his country that stole the headlines.

Demichelis, who plays for Bayern Munich in Germany, grabbed the match winner when he ghosted in and nicely placed his header from a whipped in free kick past Mark Schwarzer.

Chances for Australia to equalise were relatively scarce, the best coming just four minutes after the goal, when Carney forced a terrific save from Roberto Abbondanzieri. Carney-s attempted cross looked like it was headed for the far top corner, until the Argentinean keeper produced a wonderful save to tip it away for a corner.

Minutes later he also had to tip a Marco Bresciano free kick over the bar and that was really the last of the chances, as Argentina closed up shop.

The first half though was an open game, with both sides enjoying some good moments and Australia just shading the world number 2 ranked team.

The home side started positively and nearly had the lead in the 6th minute, when Kennedy-s header teed up Bresciano on a tight angle. His shot was headed towards the far post and was almost turned in by Demichelis; however the ball fell into the grateful arms of Abbondanzieri.

Josh Kennedy then headed a corner over the bar in the 11th minute, before Argentina took charge for as good six minute spell.

First Carlos Tevez just missed a Jonas Gutierrez cross, and then Messi looked like he was through on goal before being dispossessed brilliantly by Carney.

Messi then showed his brilliance when he beat Carney, then Grella with great skill and from 25 yards out, hit a blistering shot that cannoned against the post and across the face of goal.

Bresciano then almost produced the opening goal in the 24th minute, from a 25-metre free kick. His shot thumping against the crossbar, coming down and hitting Abbondanzieri, the ball rebounded back onto the crossbar; back onto Abbondanzieri and somehow the ball went wide of the post.

Kennedy then showed his range of skills with a nice turn wide on the left and then his superb cross was just cleared by Gabriel Milito, just in front of Jason Culina.

The match also marked the last for local boy Josip Skoko, whose ten year career with the national team, came to end six minutes into the second half, getting a huge round of applause from the crowd.

Meanwhile Messi continued to show his skills and just why he is rated so highly in world football, as the next genuine superstar of the game in the ranks of Pele and Maradona.

While the match finished as a loss, there were many positives for Australia, with Carney again playing well in the unfamiliar role of left fullback; Kennedy showing glimpses of his potential to the national team and Michael Beauchamp continues to grow in the central defensive role. Carl Valeri was also given an extended run and again didn-t look out of place, while Central Coast Mariners striker Nik Mrdja was given a debut cap late in the match.

Graham Arnold, possibly in charge of his last game of the national team in the foreseeable future, was proud of his players efforts against a world class team and believes they had their moments in the match where they had the Argentineans stretched.

Match Details

Australia 0 Argentina 1 (Martin Demichelis 49-)

Australian line-up: Mark Schwarzer (gk); Lucas Neill (c), David Carney, Jason Culina, Michael Beauchamp, Luke Wilkshire, Josip Skoko (Carl Valeri 51-), Joshua Kennedy (Nik Mrdja 82-), Archie Thompson (Nick Carle 62-), Vince Grella, Mark Bresciano (Brett Holman 58-) Subs Not Used: Clint Bolton (gk), Patrick Kisnorbo, Alex Brosque, Michael Thwaite, Simon Colosimo, Dean Heffernan

Cautions: Holman (60-), Grella (87-)

Referee: Michael Dean (England)