World champions Spain were licking their wounds after being on the wrong side of a 4-1 roasting against Argentina.
A Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina rebounded from their World Cup flop, the Barcelona star opening the scoring after just nine minutes and further goals from Gonzalo Higuain three minutes later and Carlos Tevez after 34 minutes gave the South Americans a stunning 3-0 lead at half-time.
The second half was a quieter affair with Fernando Llorente pulling one back for the Spaniards after 83 minutes before Sergio Aguero produced the final touch in injury time.
Spain were conceding four goals in a match for the first time in a decade and were suffering only their third defeat in 58 games stretching back to 2006.
After the reverse manager Vicente del Bosque said: “We didn’t tarnish the image of the national team, we lost with dignity, without ever giving up.
“I’m not trying to devalue Argentina’s win however, it was justified. They’ve got very quick players up front, they move around well and it was normal they took control of the game.
“We can also learn from defeats like this. They hurt but they can also be beneficial for the side. We have to learn how to play the great teams.”
Midfielder Cesc Fabregas reckoned the 2012 World Cup winners and reigning European champions did not deserve to lose by such a margin.
Fabregas, who started in place of Barcelona’s Xavi, said: “Nobody likes to lose. We knew that it was a difficult game and, although there are excuses, we don’t want to make them.
“One day something like that had to happen. We need to applaud them because they had four chances and scored four goals. It’s true that it wasn’t our best game, but neither was it a 4-1.
“We hit the post three times and had more chances. I think the result was too emphatic.”
Messi believed the key to the game was the way Argentina had come racing out of the blocks from kick-off.
“We did things well from the start, we killed off the match quickly. As we were up against the world champions we tried to hold it together to the end, we produced a complete performance.”
The win was a huge boost for new coach Sergio Batista, who took over from the sacked Diego Maradona after Argentina crashed out of the World Cup losing 4-0 to Germany in the quarter-finals in South Africa.
Batista said: “This team deserved revenge to show people that they could have fought for the (2010) title – we had to come home early but these players could have also been crowned champions.”
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