Gutierrez Breaks His Duck!

Last updated : 12 February 2009 By Footy Mad - Editor

FRANCE: Mandanda, Abidal, Gallas, Mexes, Sagna, Toulalan, Gourcuff, Lassana Diarra, Ribery, Henry, Anelka (Benzema 65).

Subs Not Used: Lloris, Carrasso, Boumsong, Nasri, Dabo,
Squillaci, Alou Diarra, Briand, Fanni.

ARGENTINA: Carrizo, Papa, Heinze, Demichelis, Zanetti, Gago,Mascherano, Maxi (Angeleri 81), Gutierrez, Aguero (Tevez 81),Messi.

Subs Not Used: Romero, Lavezzi, Denis, Cata Diaz, Samuel,
Burdisso, Lopez, Montenegro, Gonzalez, Di Maria.

Diego Maradona maintained his 100% record as Argentina coach thanks to goals by Jonas Gutierrez and Lionel Messi in a prestigious friendly against France in Marseille.

Newcastle midfielder Gutierrez dragged a low shot home at the near post in the 41st-minute to put the Albicelestes ahead and the in-form Messi added gloss with a superb second seven minutes from time.

The result means Maradona has two wins from two matches as his country's new coach, his first coming against Scotland in November, and he will hope his team can carry their form into their crucial World Cup qualifiers coming up.

France may count themselves unfortunate to have got nothing from a high-quality and often prickly match, which was friendly in name but not in nature.
Les Bleus created a number of decent chances in the first half, winger Franck Ribery missing the best of them, but the twinkling feet of Messi constantly troubled them.

The match may have been played in Marseille but Argentina were classed as the home team - they simply decided to hold the fixture in Europe given the number of squad members they have playing in the likes of Spain, Italy and England.

And the way the South Americans controlled possession in midfield in the opening exchanges, it was as if they were the hosts.

The French, though, quickly showed how dangerous they were on the counter-attack, Ribery turning Gabriel Heinze cleverly before firing straight at goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo and Thierry Henry volleying over.

Messi was as electric as he has been for Primera Liga leaders Barcelona this season and after one of his trademark dribbles his goalbound shot was blocked by the sliding William Gallas.

Maradona was vocal from the touchline and he must have been slightly worried about the space his defence was affording France's pacy frontmen.
Nicolas Anelka was denied by a sprawling Carrizo before Ribery broke free but could only dribble a shot at the Lazio goalkeeper.

Gutierrez's opener, which came just moments after he had shot straight at Steve Mandanda from 15 yards, therefore came against the general run of play.

The languid wideman controlled a deep cross and cut inside Bacary Sagna before driving a low shot in at the near post, the bounce of the ball defeating Mandanda.

There was certainly an edge to this friendly, the midfield battle between Lassana Diarra and Fernando Gago - both Real Madrid players - particularly spicy, especially at the start of the second half.

Ribery, a former Marseille favourite, remained France's preferred outlet but the Albicelestes' back-line held firm with centre-back Martin Demichelis outstanding.

Goalscoring opportunities were at a premium after the break but Messi just could not be stifled.

And he made the game safe for Argentina in the 83rd minute, collecting substitute Carlos Tevez's pass, wrong-footing Sagna and slamming a low shot past Mandanda from 16 yards.