Three goals either side of the half-time showed that Argentina are ready and willing to end a World Cup drought of 20 years.

Leading 3-0 at half time, coach Jose Pekerman refused to sit back and defend his lead as he looked for even more attacking options from his bench.

And when he went looking, he found them.

On the hour mark he introduced Corinthians striker Carlos Tevez and 15 minutes later it was time for "The Flea".

The introduction of 18 year old starlet Lionel Messi brought the crowd to their feet as he became the youngest player to play for Argentina in a World Cup since 1934.

Maxi Rodriguez: good for two

The move took just three minutes to pay off as the Barcelona player beat his man to the byline before crossing for Hernan Crespo to tap in the 50th goal of the 2006 World Cup.

The nuggety Tevez wasn’t to be outdone when he put his name in the scorer’s book with a great individual effort as he made a mockery of the defence, guiding the ball into the net.

It was only fitting that Messi round out the scoring as he coolly slotted away a beautifully treaded pass for Tevez.

Beware the Albiceleste.

The first three

It started in the first half when striker Maxi Rodriguez wasn’t tracked into the box and Sevilla’s Javier Saviola rolled the ball expertly into his path for the Atletico Madrid man to power home.

Wonder goal: Esteban Cambiasso
Just past the half hour, a wonderful string of passes climaxed with a back heel from Chelsea player Hernan Crespo who teed the ball up for substitute Esteban Cambiasso to double his side’s lead.

With the curtain coming down on the half, it also almost certainly came down on the European side when Saviola again found himself in the box.

His shot could only be parried by Serbian and Montenegro goal keeper Dragoslav Javric and again it fell delightfully for Rodriguez who cannoned the ball in off the post.

Insult was added to injury when striker Mateja Kezman was red carded on 65 minutes for a clumsy two footed lunge.

Argentina have now guaranteed their place in the second round and will finish their group games against the Dutch on June 21 in Frankfurt.