Julio Baptista 4th
Ayala o.g 40th
Argentina have it all to do in the second half if they are to turn around the final having fallen behind to a thundering early strike from Julio Baptista and an own goal from their captain Ayala who turned into his own goal a Daniel Alves cross in the 40th minute.
The tournament’s best team have found it difficult to find their passing rhythm as their great rivals have marked tightly and choked the space out of their game. But it is not all hustle and bustle from Brazil. While it is still not a great vintage it has been their best game of the tournament. How the adulation being heaped on Argentina before the game must have rankled.
They got off to an ideal start when Julio Baptista collected a long cross field pass from Elano and found himself one-on-one with Ayala. He stepped inside the captain and fired a rocket across Abbondanzieri into the far corner.
It was Brazil’s first attack and Argentina’s came shortly afterwards and almost resulted in an equaliser. Messi found some space on the left, crossed and Verón knocked down for Riquelme to send in a shot which came back off the post.
Unlike against Uruguay Brazil did not look to just defend their slender lead and when not choking the life out of Riquelme’s game they looked to get forward. They’ve carved out half chances such as a charge and cross by Gilberto which Heinze scrambled over the bar for a corner but Robinho’s been subdued and Vagner Love’s been more use in defence than attack.
Meanwhile Riquelme has found it hard to get into the game. There have been moments such as a shot that drew a good save from Doni but he is not the man all eyes and balls automatically wander towards as in previous games. Verón has sought to pick up some of the workload but he’s also had to be on hand to help Zanetti contain the handful that has been Julio Baptista.
The best return so far for Argentina’s attack has been Messi, supported by Cambiasso and Heinze look to infiltrate the areas patrolled by Maicon and Alex. But Dunga’s men have been clearly warned – whenever he gets the ball yellow tops swarm onto him. Even Love has been back to help out. Tevez meanwhile has been quieter than he’s been all month.
Brazil lost Elano after a challenge on Verón in the 33rd minute but if anything it only served to boost their attacking threat with Daniel Alves coming on and combining well with Maicon to provide more attacking threat down the right-hand side. In one move he scampered down and fired in a cross which Ayala, overly worried about the presence of Robinho and Love, turned into his own net.
It leaves his team with it all to do. 45 minutes to go.