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Lights-out performance for Argentina

June 17, 2010
Schaerlaeckens By Leander Schaerlaeckens

Gonzalo Higuain scored a hat trick and Lionel Messi made numerous scorching runs to help Argentina dispatch South Korea with relative ease. Plenty of A's to hand out for the Argentine crew in these match grades.


Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina: A

The gifted Real Madrid striker's game was a cherry picker's dream, as he turned in a Gerd Müller-like performance, scoring three times, twice on the simplest of finishes. Although being in the right place at the right time is certainly a skill, Higuain couldn't have asked for better service. If Argentina has a few more rompers like this, Higuain should be a shoo-in for top scorer.

Chung-Yong Lee, South Korea: B+

Scoring South Korea's only goal, Lee made the most of a blunder by Martin Demichelis, who let Lee come up from behind him to rob him of the ball. What Lee did afterward, though, gave evidence of considerable ability, as he slotted away the goal under difficult circumstances.

Carlos Tevez, Argentina: A

The burly striker put in a great performance. Although his play was never pretty, it was outrageously effective as he bullied defenders into surrendering the ball by doggedly chasing after them. His unmatchable work rate seemed to result in at least half of Argentina's 22 shots.

Lionel Messi, Argentina: A-

Doubts that Messi can replicate the style he employs so successfully at Barcelona for Argentina were violently done away with today. The tiny prodigy went on long, scorching runs, and he had a big hand in this win, creating room for anybody else on his team in search of it. Although Messi looked frustrated at frequently being knocked down and at his inability to notch a goal, this Argentina squad doesn't need him to score to win. It just needs his runs.

Sung-Ryong Jung, South Korea: B+

The keeper had a busy day to say the least. Argentina got a whopping 22 shots off, 11 of which were on goal. Although it's hard to commend a goalkeeper who has just let in four goals, Jung didn't have a bad day. You can't really blame him for any of the goals he conceded. The same can't be said for his defense.

Martin Demichelis, Argentina: C-

Demichelis, on the other hand, was to blame for the only stain on Argentina's afternoon, clumsily gifting Lee the ball right in front of goal, robbing his nation of a second consecutive shutout. The tall, ponytailed defender had a few other wobbly moments. After the game, he got a big bear hug from coach Diego Maradona, though, implying that all is forgiven. And with fellow central defender Walter Samuel leaving the game injured, you wouldn't put your money on his being ostracized from the starting lineup.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer writer for He can be reached at