Brazil vs. Argentina: Score, Highlights and Grades

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2012

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Brazil defeated Argentina 2-1 on a devastating penalty kick to win the first leg of this year's SuperClasic de las Americas.

Neymar's penalty kick with mere seconds left sealed the game and broke Argentina's heart in stoppage time.

The match started slow, with both elite teams feeling each other out, but the Argentinians would eventually get on the board. Juan Manuel Martinez finished a fantastic forward push by his squad by pushing the ball past Jefferson.

A few minutes later, Brazilian star Neymar whipped a beautiful ball in off of a set piece. Youngster Paulinho attacked the ball with veteran-like precision and scored the equalizer in the 26th minute. Paulinho was making his fourth international appearance, but he beat Oscar Ustari with a beautiful header.

The second half was a different story. Neither team was able to score, and that eventually forced the game to end in a tie. Brazil tried to take the lead late in the game, but they couldn't use the two minutes of stoppage time to their advantage. They were able to sustain an attack, but nothing came of it.



Check out Argentina's Juan Manuel Martinez score the game's first goal:

Neymar served up a beautiful set piece here, and Paulinho put used his head to put home the equalizer:



Neymar: A

Neymar is Brazil's biggest star, and he played that way on Wednesday. He wasn't able to put the ball in the net, but he did have a gigantic assist in the opening half.

He played under control, but his creativity is obvious every time he touches the ball. He's a commanding presence because of his world-class skill and he had several opportunities to showcase that against Argentina.

His biggest moment came in the game's final seconds. He buried the game-winning penalty kick, handing his squad the lead. It was his 13th international goal in just 23 appearances.


Paulinho: B+

Paulinho played very well for it being only his fourth career appearance. He scored the equalizer in the first half; burying Neymar's set like it was nothing.

He did pick up a yellow card in the second half, but he played like a veteran for the most part. The Brazilians have to be excited for the future with players like this in the attacking third.



Juan Manuel Martinez: B+

Martinez started the night's scoring off with an excellent goal, but he didn't do much otherwise. Nonetheless, that goal counts for something in a low-scoring contest like this.

Martinez was able to corral a ball that came from out wide and put it past Jefferson to give his squad the early lead. He certainly did his part, but he did miss some opportunities in the open field.


Maxi Rodriguez: C+

Rodriguez is one of Argentina's most-skilled players, but he didn't do nearly enough on Wednesday. He had the ball at his feet as much as any star player would, but he couldn't capitalize.

Argentina needs Rodriguez to pace their offense if he isn't able to put the ball in the net. He wasn't able to do either, but he did show a few crisp passes in the middle third late in the first half.

Argentina would have been happy with the tie, as they were outplayed for most of the match, but the obvious hand ball with a second left was all Brazil needed.

This game is always fun to watch, and it will be even better with the match heading back to Argentina for the second leg.

Look for Brazil to play hard, but Argentina will have vengeance in mind when these two meet again.