NUREMBERG, Germany, June 18 (Reuters) - Luciano Figueroa
scored a hat-trick to lead Argentina through to the semi-finals
of the Confederations Cup with a scrambled 4-2 win over
Australia on Saturday.
Argentina, leading 3-0 by the 53rd minute with two goals
from Figueroa and a Juan Roman Riquelme penalty, gave Australia
hope when Fabricio Coloccini conceded a penalty which John
Aloisi converted in the 61st minute.
Aloisi then capitalised on a terrible mistake from defender
Gabriel Heinze to grab his fourth goal of the tournament and
make it 3-2 with 20 minutes to go.
But Figueroa, promoted to the starting line-up for
Argentina's second game in the competition, tapped the ball in
following a Riquelme free-kick one minute from time.
Victory sent Argentina and Germany through to the last four
with six points apiece, after the hosts had beaten Tunisia 3-0
earlier in the day.
The two favourites will fight it out for top spot in Group A
in Nuremberg on Tuesday.
Argentina's second victory looked certain as they went 3-0
up with cool efficiency in front of a sparse crowd at the
The South Americans took the lead in the 12th minute with a
brilliantly executed goal.
Riquelme exchanged passes with Figueroa outside the box
before feeding Mario Santana. His weighted ball found Figueroa
12 metres out and the Villarreal striker blasted past goalkeeper
Javier Saviola was pulled down by Lucas Neill 20 minutes
later and Riquelme squeezed his penalty beyond Schwarzer.
Argentina kept the ball for the remainder of the half with
something close to disdain and the introduction of Mark Viduka
to Australia's attack immediately after the break did little to
disturb the South Americans.
Australia's failure to clear an innocuous header from Juan
Pablo Sorin presented Figueroa with a chance to sweep in his
second goal eight minutes into the second period.
Coloccini's foul on Aloisi gave Australia a route back into
the game and the big striker was on target again in the 70th
minute thanks to Heinze's mistake.
The Manchester United defender inexplicably tried to chest a
high ball back to goalkeeper German Lux rather than clear
upfield. The ball fell straight to Aloisi, who gratefully
smashed it into the roof of the net from a couple of metres.
Argentina were rattled but substitute Esteban Cambiasso made
a couple of important interceptions on the edge of the area and
coach Jose Pekerman's side were able to breathe a sigh of relief
when Figueroa completed his hat-trick.