BUENOS AIRES, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme, an outcast at his club Villarreal, scored two majestic free kicks to give Argentina a 2-0 win over Chile in
their opening World Cup qualifier on Saturday.
Riquelme, who has not played for his Spanish club this
season after falling out with coach Manuel Pellegrini, curled
his first effort into the top right-hand corner from the edge
of the area in the 27th minute.
The mercurial midfielder produced an even more impressive
shot from around 30 metres to increase Argentina's lead in the
45th minute and upstage team mate Lionel Messi.
Chile's problems increased when defender Cristian Alvarez
was sent off in the 54th minute for crashing into Javier
'I was in luck,' Riquelme told reporters. 'The important
thing is that Argentina keep winning.'
Argentina coach Alfio Basile said he was always confident
'People can think what they like about Riquelme,' Basile
said. 'When I selected him, I knew he had been training well.
'A player of his standard is not going to forget how to
The match was an unhappy homecoming for Chile's Argentine
coach Marcelo Bielsa, who was in charge of Argentina from 1998
'The performance in general is not one which we can be
satisfied about,' he said after his first competitive game as
Chile bravely took the game to the hosts early on but
failed to create any clear-cut chances, apart from a run and
shot from Humberto Suazo which flew wide.
Riquelme, whose last game was in the 3-0 defeat by Brazil
in the Copa America in July, had Argentina's best effort with a
25-metre shot in the seventh minute before firing them ahead.
Maxi Rodriguez and Carlos Tevez both went close for
Argentina before Riquelme struck again on the stroke of
Riquelme had a chance to complete a hat-trick of free kicks
early in the second half but this time his shot flew high and
After Alvarez's dismissal, Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo
was lucky not to be sent off as well when he escaped with a
yellow card for rushing out of his area and upending Messi.
Riquelme rolled the resulting free kick to Messi, whose
deflected shot hit the post.