BARCELONA, June 5 - Lionel Messi scored twice to inspire Argentina to put a
dismal first half behind them and beat Algeria 4-3 in a friendly international
Playing on his club Barcelona's
Nou Camp turf, Messi converted a penalty and Argentina's decisive fourth goal to
help Alfio Basile's side come back from 2-1 down at halftime.
Lionel Messi scores a penalty against Algeria during their international
friendly soccer match at Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona June 5, 2007.
Mistakes at three Algerian set pieces, particularly from World Cup goalkeeper
Roberto Abbondanzieri, allowed the African side three goals to keep the result
in the balance throughout.
Basile, who injected the side with purpose by sending on midfielders Javier
Mascherano and Lucho Gonzalez for the second half, will be concerned about
defensive frailties with the Copa America looming.
Carlos Tevez put Argentina ahead in the opening minute with a penalty after
fellow striker Diego Milito was brought down from behind, but any ideas
Argentina had of an easy match were soon dispelled.
Algeria equalised after nine minutes when Anthar Yahia headed home a corner
past the static Abbondanzieri and took the lead three minutes before the
interval with Majid Bougherra's free kick.
Argentina came out all guns blazing for the second half and within 11 minutes
of the restart were 3-2 up.
Messi, who hit the post in the 51st minute with a shot from outside the area,
converted a 54th-minute penalty after being brought down by defender Mehdi
Midfielder Esteban Cambiasso put Argentina in front when he headed home
Javier Zanetti's right cross two minutes later.
Messi made it 4-2 in the 73rd minute after a fine one-two with substitute
Pablo Aimar but the result hung in the balance to the end after Nadir Belhadj
beat Abbondanzieri with another free kick.
Centre-back Roberto Ayala captained Argentina for a record 58th
international, having equalled Diego Maradona's mark of 57 in the 1-1 draw with
Switzerland in Basel on Saturday.
Ayala, who also extended his Argentine caps record to 109, said he was
disappointed with the goals conceded.
"These matches leave you with a sour taste in the mouth because it annoys you
to let in three goals from dead balls," he said.
The match was Argentina's final warmup for the Copa America in Venezuela from
June 26 to July 15 where they will be in Group C with Colombia, Paraguay and the