A blistering first 20 minutes in Stockholm were enough for Argentina to continue their winning form, as they downed Sweden 3-2 at the Friends Arena.
Gonzalo Higuain opened the scoring early on, but that was cancelled out by Jonas Olsson’s header. The equaliser only served to spur on the visitors though, as Sergio Aguero struck twice to make it 3-1, before Rasmus Elm struck a stunning late consolation.
Argentina were celebrating almost instantly as they took an early lead. Barely two minutes were on the clock when Angel Di Maria burst forward and caught the home side off guard. The Real Madrid man laid the ball off to Higuain, and the striker’s powerful effort took a deflection on its way into the net to hand the Albiceleste the lead.
The South Americans looked supremely comfortable, dominating possession and pressing well to retrieve on the few occasions the ball went astray, reducing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a mere spectator in the first half. However, defensive
lapses were to rear their head and allow Sweden a way back into the game. One of their first attacks saw a looping corner to the far post find an unmarked Jonas Olsson, who made excellent contact and powered his header past the diving Sergio Romero.
That goal failed to halt Argentina’s dominance, however. Di Maria was at his brilliant best again when he ran at the Sweden defence and found Sergio Aguero, who delicately chipped over Andres Isaksson with his left boot to restore the advantage.
Lionel Messi had been playing deeper than usual in the attacking trident, but in one of his first approaches on goal the four-time Ballon d’Or winner launched a stinging shot from outside the box. Isaksson parried, only to despair as the ball fell into the path of Higuain for the easiest of finishes.
Di Maria and Aguero both had chances to add to their tally, while Sweden tried to hit back through Alexander Kacaniklic, who forced a decent save from Romero. It was Argentina, however, who went into half-time on top and in electrifying form.
Sweden as promised had withdrawn Zlatan Ibrahimovic after the first 45 minutes, and continued to play second fiddle to an Albiceleste side that dictated the rhythm of Wednesday’s friendly.
Messi and Co. remained on top throughout the second half, but in a game that became progressively more disjointed as both sides made full use of their substitutes, with goalmouth action increasingly sporadic.
There would however be one late cheer for Sweden; Rasmus Elm slamming home a brilliant free kick to give Sweden their second of the evening.
The Albiceleste maintain their unbeaten run established throughout 2012, and will next host Venezuela in March in their first official match of the year. Sweden, meanwhile, will face Republic of Ireland before travelling to Slovakia.
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