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Enyeama demystifies Messi, keeps score low

Enyeama in action during the match. Photo: By Vanguard's Sylva Eleanya

* As Argentina defeats Nigeria 1-0

Super Eagles goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama today displayed some heroics to check Argentina’s talisman Lionel Messi to keep the scoreline low at 1-0 following the stunning low header by Gabriel Heinze inside Johannesburg’s packed Ellis Park stadium.

With the victory Argentina whose coach Diego Maradona was under pressure all through the game joined Korea Republic on three points but the Asians top the Group on goals  having beaten Greece 2-0 in an earlier match.

Eagles undoing was their wasteful finishing especially from substitute Uche Kalu who tapped a cross from Yakubu Aiyegbeni over the bar from close range in the 83rd minute

As early as the fourth minute, FIFA World Player of the Year  Messi burst through the Eagles’ defence and set up Gonzalo Higuain in front of goal, but the Real Madrid man blazed wide of the target. Two minutes later Messi tested Enyeama from 20 yards out, but the Israel-based goalkeeper saved well with a dive to his right.

However, from the resulting corner, Heinze ran forward and found himself all alone directly on the penalty spot, and he made no mistake with the chance. The early goal sent coach Diego Maradona into raptures on the sideline, and surely he must have thought there was more to come.

Messi was a constant thorn in the side of the Nigeria defence, and in the 18th minute he cut inside and curled a left_footed shot towards goal from 25 yards out. But Enyeama was up to the task with a fine save at his post.

Three minutes later, the Albiceleste threatened again but Higuain blasted his point_blank shot right into the goalkeeper. Enyeama was the Nigerian hero another time shortly after, denying Messi with his fingertips when it seemed like his curling shot would sneak in.

Enyeama... down but not out... Photo: By Vanguard's Sylva Eleanya

The introduction of Obafemi Martins early in the second period sparked the Eagles into life. The Wolfsburg forward showed his pace on the hour to latch onto a through-ball and play in Sani Kaita but he blasted over from 25 yards out.

As the match opened up, Argentina found more room in the attacking third. In the 65th minute, they counter-attacked quickly to find themselves four-on-two and bearing down on the Eagles defence. Carlos Tevez slid the ball dangerously into the middle, Angel Di Maria let the ball carry on to Messi, but the Barcelona superstar hit his shot agonisingly wide. Messi then set up Higuain for another opening, but Enyeama was again the victor in that head-to-head duel.

Man of the match... Photo: By Vanguard's Sylva Eleanya

In the 71st minute, Eagles left-back Taye Taiwo blasted a shot just wide of the post from the edge of the area, injuring himself in the process. His replacement, Uche, had the best chance of the night for the Eagles in the 83rd minute, but he failed to keep down an effort from 12 yards out despite being left unmarked.

Eagles next is against Greece on Wednesday in Manguang/Bloemfontein, while Argentina and Korea Republic will battle it out for the top of the group at Johannesburg’s Soccer City on the same day.


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