Spain 2 - Argentina 1
Spain: Reina; Sergio
Ramos, Pablo, Juanito, Capdevila (Antonio López 46'); Angulo (Cesc 75'),
Albelda (Xabi Alonso 46'), Xavi, Iniesta; David Villa, Fernando Torres (Luis
García 56'). 4-4-2.
Luis Aragonés may have saved his job, at least for a little bit longer, after Spain beat Argentina 2-1 in this friendly international. Names such as Miguel Angel Lotina and Lippi had already been bandied about in the press as possible replacements for the team coach after another defeat against Sweden at the weekend in their qualifying group, but both management and players rallied behind the veteran coach, who started the game at the newly inaugurated Nueva Condomina stadium in Murcia with a similar line up to the one which lost against the Scandinavians, with Pablo coming in for the injured Puyol, Iniesta replacing Cesc, and Reina getting a run out in goal instead of Casillas.
The pitch though started to cut up right from the start, and Maxi went down with an injury with only a quarter of an hour gone. Spain started well, with Angulo shooting wide and Fernando Torres heading past the post, but Messi could have put the South Americans ahead when he struck an angled shot past the far post with only the keeper to beat. Soon afterwards Xavi put the locals ahead with a spectacular shot from outside of the area after picking up a pass from his Barcelona team mate Iniesta, but just over a minute later Bilos equalised after Messi set him up with a square pass.
There were the usual round of substitutions, Xabi Alonso and Antonio López coming on at the break and Luis García replacing an off form Torres soon afterwards. García was in action within minutes, heading against the post, and a couple of minutes later David Villa got what was to prove the winner from the penalty spot after Ayala tripped Iniesta. Argentina's only reaction was a long shot from Mascherano way over the top, and Villa and García both had strikes ruled out for offside near the end.
Spain's problems increased however after the day's other results, with their closest rivals Sweden, Denmark and Northern Ireland all winning their European qualifying group games. With Sweden already out of sight it appears that Luis Aragonés's side will have to fight it out for second spot, but Denmark and Northern Ireland are already four points ahead of them at this early stage of the competition.