Messi / PHOTO: www.ole.com.ar

Argentina came away from its international friendly against Saudi Arabia with a goalless draw. Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano, who ran the South American team’s midfield, played the entire 90 minutes. The match was also a good opportunity for Messi to meet up with his old manager Frank Rijkaard, who now coaches the Saudi Arabia national team. Despite the pressure to beat a team that, at least on paper, isn’t as powerful, Argentina was made to settle for draw.

Few chances

The first half didn’t see either side create too many scoring chances. Argentina had the initiative, but they couldn’t break through the home team’s defence. Nearly every attack from the team managed by Sabella went through Messi, who paired up with Agüero on offence. On 12 minutes, Messi unleashed a shot from just outside the area, after a good play with El Kun, but the local goalkeeper Abdullah did well to deny the Argentine. Despite the flow of the match, the best chance of the first half fell to Rijkaard’s men, but the chance was saved by the Argentina keeper, Romero.

Argentina push forward

The visiting team applied more pressure in the second half. Messi, who dropped back to the midfield, was incisive with his passes and runs and he very nearly scored the match winner on 79 minutes. Argentina poured forward in the dying minutes of the match, but in the end Saudi Arabia’s defence held out.

Alexis subbed off due to injury

Alexis Sánchez, who played from the start in the Chile vs Serbia match, was forced to abandon the pitch after he picked up a knock to his right ankle. Hanríquez came on for the injured Blaugrana after only 20 minutes of play.

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