Olyroos go down fighting against Argentina

The Australian Men’s Olympic Football team will have to win its last group game against Côte d’Ivoire to advance to the quarter finals, after going down gallantly to the tournament favourites Argentina 1-0 at the Shanghai Stadium.

The Australian Men-s Olympic Football team will have to win its last group game against Côte d-Ivoire to advance to the quarter finals, after going down gallantly to the tournament favourites Argentina 1-0 at the Shanghai Stadium.

A 77th minute strike from Ezequiel Lavezzi gave Argentina a deserved win, although they had to fight hard for it against an Australian side that battled manfully throughout in the steamy conditions.

Argentina was the dominant team throughout, with Australia forced to defend for long periods; Olyroo keeper Adam Federici kept busy as Lionel Messi and Juan Riquelme in particular, had numerous attempts on goal.

Olyroos coach Graham Arnold made three changes to the starting eleven, dropping fullbacks Trent McClenahan and Nikolai Topor-Stanley, plus Nikita Rukavytsya, with Neil Kilkenny, Billy Celeski and James Troisi all coming in to bolster the midfield.

After a nervous start by Federici, where he made a hash of a clearance, he more than redeemed himself with some splendid saves shortly afterwards.

Messi missed a chance after seven minutes, shooting over the bar and was then denied by Federici at the near post a further seven minutes in.

Minutes later, Riquelme was thankfully wide with a free kick from inside the penalty box, after the referee deemed Federici held onto the ball for longer than six seconds.

Australia-s first shot in anger came after 18 minutes, with Stuart Musialik going high and wide and five minutes later Billy Celeski made a great run into the penalty area only to see his shot blocked away for a corner.

Federici was again in the action after 29 minutes, saving a Riquelme shot from the edge of the area.

After a quiet period, Australia then had a great chance to take the lead with six minutes remaining before half time, when James Troisi played a great ball in behind the defence for Thompson, but the Melbourne Victory striker pulled his left foot shot across the face of goal.

Messi and Riquelme then combined to set up the Barcelona striker right on half time, but he pulled his shot fractionally wide of the post.

Argentina came out strongly in the second half and had three opportunities in the opening minutes, with a Luciano Monzon shot deflecting wide; Federici saving a Riquelme shot and then Javier Mascherano blasting into the side-netting.

Argentina continued to dominate possession and the chances, but Australia survived and had a few moments of their own, none better than presented to Nikita Rukavytsya, just moments after coming on for Thompson in the 72nd minute. Played in behind the defence by Neil Kilkenny, his fierce shot on the angle went into the side-netting.

Five minutes later the goal that Argentina-s play had deserved arrived after a quick counter. Riquelme-s incisive run had the Australian defence stretched, the ball played out to Angel Di Maria on the left and his first cross to the back post found Lavezzi, who placed his shot back across Federici.

Two minutes later Rukavytsya had a half chance to equalise, when he received a good ball from Mark Milligan on the edge of the box, but his shot was comfortably saved down low by Oscar Ustari.

But that was then end of any chances for an Australian equaliser, with Argentina closing the game down and almost doubling their lead through Riquelme, whose blistering shot going just wide of Federici-s post.

The win for Argentina guaranteed their place in the quarter finals.

Australia will play their final group match of the 2008 Olympic Games Men-s Football Tournament against Côte d-Ivoire (Ivory Coast) at the Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Tianjin on Wednesday 13 August (Kick-off 9:45pm AEST). Australia will need a win to have a chance of progressing to the quarter final stage of the competition.

Match Details

Argentina 1 (Ezequiel Lavezzi 76-) Australia 0

Australia line-up: 1.Adam Federici (gk), 2.Jade North, 4.Mark Milligan (C), 5.Matthew Spiranovic, 7.Neil Kilkenny 8.Stuart Musialik, 10.Archie Thompson (17.Nikita Rukavytsya 72-), 11.David Carney, 13.Ruben Zadkovich, 14.James Troisi (9.Mark Bridge, 65-). 16.Billy Celeski (12.Trent McClenahan 81-).

Substitutes Not Used: 18.Tando Velaphi (gk), 3.Adrian Leijer, 6.Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 15.Kristian Sarkies.

Yellow Cards: Adam Federici 74-, Mark Milligan 89-. Red Cards: Nil

Referee: Viktor Kassai (HUN) Assistant Referees: Gabor Eros (HUN) & Tibor Vamos (HUN) Fourth Official: Jair Marrufo (USA) Crowd: 38,182