COLOGNE, Germany, June 15 (Reuters) - Argentina beat Tunisia 2-1 in the opening match of the Confederations Cup on Wednesday, winning more easily than the narrow scoreline suggests.
Juan Riquelme's 33rd minute penalty and a well-taken 57th
minute strike from Javier Saviola gave the South Americans
control of the Group A match against the African champions, who
missed with one penalty and converted another.
Both Tunisian penalties were awarded after Argentina
goalkeeper German Lux brought down striker Haykel Guemamdia,
first in the 17th minute and then in the 72nd minute.
Imed Mhadhebi missed the first penalty, walking up to the
ball and then blasting it two metres wide, but Guemamdia took
the second himself and scored.
After surviving their early scare from the spot, Argentina
controlled the match for long periods, while Tunisia played some
enterprising, creative football of their own and produced a
couple of chances in the closing stages.
Riquelme said: 'We knew we were facing a very tough side and
we got off to a bumpy start. But things did get better as the
match went on.
'We need to improve, though, if we want to reach the level
to achieve what we want.'
Tunisia made the better start but were visibly deflated by
the penalty miss and Argentina began to take control.
They showed Mhadhebi how a penalty should be taken after
Tunisia skipper Hatem Trabelsi shoved Maxim Rodriguez in mid-air
as he rose to meet Mario Santana's high cross.
Trabelsi was booked and Riquelme coolly converted the
The outstanding Luciano Galletti created Argentina's second,
breaking in space down the Tunisian right and crossing perfectly
for Saviola, who steered the ball home from two metres out.
With Argentina seemingly coasting at 2-0, Lux tripped
Guemamdia for a second time to concede another penalty and was
booked in the process.
Guemamdia sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the spot,
giving the Tunisians in the crowd at the half-filled stadium
something to cheer.
Argentina, who made sure of being back in Germany next year
after qualifying for the World Cup finals last week, should have
gone ahead after only 11 minutes.
Defender Karim Saidi lost possession on the edge of his area
to the usually lethal Saviola, but the striker, with only
goalkeeper Khaled Fadhel to beat, took too long and the keeper
smothered his shot.
Although Slim Benachour displayed some real creativity in
the Tunisian midfield in the opening exchanges, Argentina
gradually took charge through Riquelme, Santana and Lucas
Skipper Juan Sorin finished off another excellent Argentina
build-up with a shot over the bar just before half-time, while
Saviola, Santana and Galletti could all have added to
Argentina's total in the second half.
Germany were hosting Australia later in Frankfurt in the
day's other Group A match.