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Argentina 2-0 Greece

Maradona wants an apology

June 23, 2010

Diego Maradona said his Argentina team's easy progression to the knockout stages has silenced the critics, who he insisted should apologise for the way they dismissed his side.

Diego Maradona congratulates Martin Palermo on his goal
GettyImagesDiego Maradona congratulates Martin Palermo on his goal

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Argentina's 2-0 victory over Greece - thanks to late goals from Martin Demichelis and veteran striker Martin Palermo - saw them top Group B with maximum points.

That contrasted sharply with their performances in the qualifying campaign - when they had to win their last two matches to reach South Africa.

"They (the critics) should apologise to the players, who are 100% professional,'' said Maradona. "We are doing our duty, which is to defend the Argentina shirt. Sometimes they are wrong, but those who have also criticised are wrong and should apologise.''

Argentina struggled to break down a stubborn Greece defence whose resistance was finally broken seven minutes from time.

Goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas was busy for most of the night but Maradona criticised the often physical approach of Otto Rehhagel's side which he felt was unnecessary.

He added: "Where is the famous fair play? If every time Lionel Messi grabs the ball as thrown to the ground, what are we talking about? They should get a yellow card to stop it, because that is in the rules.''

Maradona said they would treat Sunday's last-16 opponents Mexico "calmly but with respect''.

"We're going to find their weak spots with players who are better,'' he said. "At this level you cannot have errors. We must try to go as far as we can. What matters for my players is that we are a great group and this is reflected on the pitch.''

Rehhagel admitted his side were second-best, but that was to be expected.

"It was a well-deserved victory, no doubt about that,'' said the 71-year-old German. "We wanted to avoid an early goal, we managed to do that, but of course Argentina had more class and that earned them the win.'' My players played with their hearts and with excitement

"But it was just not enough to cause Argentina much trouble.''