Friendly

November 14, 2012

Full-time

Saudi Arabia

0 - 0

Argentina

Friendly

17:00 +00:00, November 14, 2012

King Fahd International Stadium, Saudi Arabia

Referee: Ali Hasan Abdulnabi

Saudi Arabia 0-0 Argentina

#INSERT type:image caption: Osama Hawsawi fouls Sergio Aguero END#

Lionel Messi endured a rare quiet night as Argentina could only register a goalless draw against Saudi Arabia in an international friendly played in Riyadh.

The South Americans were far from their best and came close to losing to the Saudis, who are led by former Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard, and who have already crashed out of World Cup qualifying.

The hosts had the clearest chances of a surprisingly tight opening half.

Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero had to make a smart save after 18 minutes from Mohammed Al Shamrani cross-shot following a counter-attack.

Al Shahrani then had the ball in the net 10 minutes later when he headed in a Saud Kariri free-kick but the linesman's flag was already raised for offside.

Alejandro Sabella's side produced little as an attacking threat in the first 45 minutes with Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta their best option while Benfica's Eduardo Salvio buzzed about in midfield.

At half-time Sabella sent on Wigan striker Franco Di Santo and Ricardo Alvarez to give his side more of an attacking edge.

But the bad night for Messi and company continued as Saudi Arabia maintained their superiority and the visitors needed Fabricio Coloccini to make a goal-line clearance from a Mansoor Al Harbi shot.

After that Argentina improved slightly and a good combination between Sergio Aguero and substitute Augusto Fernandez finished with the latter forcing Waleed Abdullah into a good stop. The ball rebounded to Di Santo but he could not find the net.

Messi had been a near passenger for the majority of the night until he finally provided a glimpse of his brilliance. The Barca playmaker avoided a pair of defenders before his snap-shot was blocked by defender Al Harbi.

Shortly after, the Rosario-born midfielder connected well with Angel Di Maria and went head-to-head with the Abdullah, who made another excellent stop and preserve his clean sheet.

"The truth is that we didn't play well. I think it was important to avoid the defeat,'' Aguero said.

"Despite the bad result, these kind of games are important for the growth of this squad.''

Sabella used the match to test some players ahead of the next South American World cup qualifiers, scheduled for next March.

Before that Argentina will face two more friendlies against Brazil in Buenos Aires on November 21 and Sweden on February 6 in Solna.

Scoring Summary

Saudi Arabia Argentina

Teams

Saudi Arabia Argentina
Waleed AbdullahSergio Romero
Osama HawsawiFabricio Coloccini
6 Mohammed Al-BishiPablo Zabaleta
3 Mansoor Al-HarbiFederico Fernandez
4 Yasir Al-ShahraniFaustino Rojo
Saud Ali Khariri14 Javier Mascherano
Ahmed AteefÁngel Di María
10 Taisser Al Jassim20 Tino Costa
7 Salem Al-Dosari16 Sergio Agüero
Naser Al-Shamrani10 Lionel Messi
11 Mohammed Al-Sahlawi19 Eduardo Salvio
Substitutes
  Hassan Al-OtaibiMariano Andújar 12
  Yaser Al-MusaimCristian Alvarez 22
  Kamel Saddiq Al-MosaHugo Armando Campagnaro 13
  Mohammad Al ShlhoubLuciano Monzón 17
  Abdulmajeed Al-RuwailiAugusto Fernandez 5
  Yasser Al QahtaniFabián Andrés Rinaudo 15
  Yousif Al SalemRicardo Alvarez 18
 Franco Di Santo 9
 Rodrigo Palacio 21
Substitutions
Mohammad Al Shlhoub for Yasir Al-Shahrani (59)
Augusto Fernandez for Tino Costa (46)
Yasser Al Qahtani for Osama Hawsawi (66)
Franco Di Santo for Eduardo Salvio (46)
Yellow Cards
Waleed Abdullah (90)
Pablo Zabaleta (61)
· Squads: Saudi Arabia | Argentina