Argentina off to a flyer
By Lewis Rutledge
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Argentina underlined their credentials with a stylish 4-1 victory over United States.Argentina underlined their credentials as Copa America favourites with a stylish 4-1 victory over United States in their Group C opener.
USA briefly threatened to cause a major upset when Eddie Johnson opened the scoring, but Argentina came roaring back with a brace from Hernan Crespo and further goals from Pablo Aimar and Carlos Tevez.
Johnson was brought down in the area by Gabriel Milito after eight minutes and calmly stepped up to take the penalty and fire USA into a surprise lead.
But USA could only keep their advantage for four minutes as Crespo got on the end of a Juan Roman Riquelme free-kick.
USA battled hard to stay on level terms and managed to frustrate Argentina for the rest of the first half by packing their defence with bodies.
Kasey Keller tipped a Juan Sebastian Veron shot onto the crossbar just before the break but could do nothing about Crespo's well-placed strike after 64 minutes, which rounded off a delightful move involving Lionel Messi and Riquelme.
Argentina could not be contained any longer and Aimar made it 3-1 as he headed home Gabriel Heinze's cross in the 78th minute.
Tevez came on moments later and completed the rout with a cool finish past Keller four minutes from time.
Argentina coach Alfio Basile was delighted with the result and insisted his side were not nervous after falling behind.
"We stayed calm. My players worked and were rewarded," he explained.
"USA were tactically very good and made it difficult for us but we knew that at some point they would tire."
Crespo, who equalled Diego Maradona's goal-scoring record with his 34th for Argentina, added: "The achievement was made special by the presence of Maradona at the game.
"It's an immense honour for me to equal the achievement of Diego."
USA coach Bob Bradley was proud of his team but admitted Argentina were too strong in the last half hour.
"We put a lot of effort into the first 60 minutes, and I think when Argentina raised the level over the last 30 minutes we were unable to match that," Bradley said.