Sergio Aguero scored twice as Argentina beat Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2-0, in St. Louis to post back-to-back clean sheets for the first time under manager Alejandro Sabella.
A heavily partisan Bosnia-Herzegovina crowd turned out in full force at Busch Stadium for Monday’s friendly, although at the final whistle it was the two-time World Cup winners who had given the better account of themselves in St. Louis.
That said, it was Vedad Ibisevic who quite nearly opened the scoring for the Balkan side after only 10 minutes—the Stuttgart striker’s shot just trickling past the far post after the Argentina defense was opened up.
Then barely a minute later, Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko made a good run into the box but was successfully blocked off before he could pull the trigger in front of Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero.
Slowly but surely, however, the Albiceleste came into the match, showing off their timely runs and one-touch buildup play as they grew in confidence midway through the opening period.
But it took until the 40th minute for them to finally open the scoring.
Rodrigo Palacio might well have earned a penalty off on-rushing Bosnia-Herzegovina goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, but the referee did well to play the advantage—allowing the ball to fall to Aguero, who slammed it into the gaping net.
Three minutes after the restart, it was Aguero playing provider to set up Palacio, although on this occasion Begovic made a spectacular save to keep his side to within a goal. And just two minutes after that, Aguero quite nearly had his second when Spahic did ever so well to block the Manchester City man’s attempt from in close.
But not long after the hour-mark, Aguero got his brace—Maxi Rodriguez playing a delightful, arching pass to the 25-year-old, who needed just a single touch with his left foot to thump the ball past Begovic with aplomb.
Argentina might have extended their lead on numerous occasions before the final whistle, and in the 75th minute, in particular, Begovic had to be sharp to deny Aguero his hat-trick.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, meanwhile, would not get another meaningful scoring opportunity as the Argentina defense managed to smother their attacking play before it even entered the 18-yard box.
Key Player Grades
Sergio Aguero: A+
He gave the Bosnia-Herzegovina defense a proper run-around during the 77 minute he spent on the pitch. His control of the Rodriguez pass ahead of his second goal was sublime, and his movement off the ball allowed his attacking teammates to create openings with impressive frequency.
Angel Di Maria: A
The Real Madrid playmaker operated in a considerably deeper role than he will have grown accustomed to at the Bernabeu, but the different position didn’t at all hinder his effectiveness. He pulled the strings in the attack until being withdrawn with four minutes to play and also committed himself on the defensive side of the ball.
Zvjezdan Misimovic: B
The Bosnia-Herzegovina maestro would no doubt have preferred to touch the ball a bit more often at Busch Stadium and was substituted in the 69th minute. Beyond the opening exchanges shortly after kickoff, he struggled to spring his teammates in the attacking third.
|Argentina Player Grades|
|Bosnia-Herzegovina Player Grades|
Both sides have already qualified for the 2014 World Cup. Argentina are seeded in Pot 1 for the Group Stage draw, while Bosnia-Herzegovina will be in Pot 2.