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World Cup 2010
Messi takes knocks as Argentina win
Diego Maradona says midfielder is victim of 'scandalous' fouls in 3-1 Mexico win.
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2010 09:31 GMT
Tevez gets a hug from Maradona as Argentina go through [GALLO/GETTY]

Gonzalo Higuain and Carlos Tevez shouldered the burden up front for Argentina again after Lionel Messi was the victim of what coach Diego Maradona called scandalous fouling in a 3-1 win over Mexico.

Messi has gone four matches without scoring despite playing brilliantly even when tightly marked and Maradona put the lack of goals down to Mexico's targeting of the World Player of the Year.

"It's scandalous - they aim at his right leg or his left and don't look at the ball," Maradona said after his team reached the World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.

"They kick him terribly and the referee doesn't say anything about it."

Messi came agonisingly close to a second World Cup goal, and first at these finals, when he brought a diving save from Oscar Perez with a trademark left-footed shot to the top corner near the end.

Tevez was offside when he put the twice champions ahead in the 26th minute but there was no argument with his second goal, a 25-metre drive into the top corner early in the second half.

Higuain, taking his tournament-topping tally to four, also scored after a defensive blunder as Argentina won the second round clash at Soccer City in Johannesburg to progress to a meeting with Germany in Cape Town on July 3.

Offside controversy

Tevez opened the scoring after his low effort was blocked by goalkeeper Perez. Messi chipped the rebound to his fellow forward who had strayed into an offside position and headed the ball into the net.

SPECIAL COVERAGE

The Mexicans protested the decision and Italian referee Roberto Rosetti ran over to consult his assistant linesman, who was surrounded by irate players, before confirming the goal.

There was a heated exchange between the teams' two benches over the issue after the half time whistle.

Seven minutes later defender Ricardo Osorio clumsily lost control of the ball as he was bringing it out of defence and Gonzalo Higuain pounced to round Perez and put Argentina two up.

Tevez put the match beyond the Mexicans seven minutes into the second half with his stunning drive.

Mexico were left to rue poor finishing after one consolation goal in the 71st minute by young striker Javier Hernandez, a fine turn and shot from a tight angle on the left that beat Romero at the near post.

Source:
Reuters
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