Maradona begins reign with narrow triumph
(CNN) — An eighth-minute Maxi Rodriguez goal gave Argentina a 1-0 win over Scotland at Hampden Park as Diego Maradona's reign as national coach began with a positive result.
Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor made a great save from Argentina captain Javier Mascherano before Rodriguez finished off a fine move by sliding the ball home from close range.
The South Americans, slick and speedy at times, appeared to ease off after their blistering start but still dominated most of the match, leaving the Scots looking for their first friendly win at the national stadium since 1996.
Most of the attention before the game was on Maradona, who returned to Glasgow for the first time since he scored his first goal for Argentina in a 3-1 friendly win at Hampden in 1979.
The former Napoli and Barcelona superstar was given a huge roar of approval from the home fans, mostly for his 'Hand of God' goal against England in the 1986 World Cup and Maradona must have been pleased when the action started.
The visitors produced an opening 10 minutes of breathtaking football after which they were ahead and cruising. Defender Martin Demichelis headed a Jonas Gutierrez corner just past the post after a minute and five minutes later, with the South Americans in complete control, McGregor was forced into a fabulous save from Mascherano's long-range volley.
Argentina scored the opener with another fine move that split open the Scotland defense. Carlos Tevez picked up the ball on the right-hand side of the box, slipping it to Gutierrez, whose short, first-time pass put Rodriguez in and the Atletico Madrid player clinically slid the ball past McGregor from close range.
In the 19th minute, with no change in the pattern of play, Tevez sent Ezequiel Lavezzi through on goal with a slide-rule pass and McGregor had to block the angled shot from close range with his feet.
It looked as if it was going to be a long night for George Burley's side but at the other end moments later, with Scotland's first attempt on goal, James McFadden's shot from Kris Commons' cross was blocked for a corner by Demichelis, which the visitors survived.
However, Argentina bared their teeth again in the 35th minute when defender Javier Zanetti raced down the right and cut the ball back to Tevez, who had time to take a touch on the edge of the box before blazing over the bar.
Then five minutes from the break, some hesitation from Demichelis inside the Argentina penalty area as he ushered the ball back to his keeper allowed McFadden to rob him, but the striker's low drive was too weak to bother Juan Pablo Carrizo.
Argentina dropped the tempo after the break and Scotland sensed there was a way back, but there appeared to be a lack of cutting edge to the home side's play.
In the 70th minute, Kenny Miller passed up a great chance to equalize when he headed a corner from substitute Shaun Maloney past the post from around six meters out. However, that was as good as it got for the home side and, in the end, Argentina were full value for their victory.
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