JOHANNESBURG – Argentina needed a couple of breaks in its second round World Cup match. It got one from the referee and another from Mexico.
Carlos Tevez scored twice – once on a disputed goal – and Gonzalo Higuain scored as the Albiceleste beat Mexico, 3-1, on Sunday to move into the quarterfinals.
“We’re not here on vacation, we came here to leave everything so that the Argentines can be proud of us,” coach Diego Maradona said.
With Mexico getting the best scoring chances early on, Tevez headed in a pass from Lionel Messi in the 26th minute from close in. One problem: He was clearly offside.
Referee Roberto Rosetti of Italy awarded the goal after consulting with his linesman, the pair surrounded by angrily gesturing Mexican and Argentine players.
Then in the 33rd minute, Higuain rounded the goalkeeper to make it 2-0 after El Tri’s Ricardo, under no pressure, played the ball straight into his path.
In the 52nd, Tevez blasted in one of the tournament’s best goals, an unstoppable shot from 25 yards.
“Two mistakes ... drastically changed the course of the game,” Mexico coach Javier Aguirre said. “There was a before and after.”
The call on Tevez’s first goal came just hours after the referee at Germany’s 4-1 win over England failed to recognize that a shot by England’s Frank Lampard, which would have tied the score at 2 late in the first half, clearly made it across the goal line after striking the crossbar.
Argentina, which also beat Mexico in the round of 16 four years ago, plays Germany in the quarterfinals. That’s a rematch, too – a repeat of the 2006 quarterfinals, which the Germans won. The Germans also defeated Argentina in the 1990 World Cup final.
“We know Germany is a different team than the Mexico team we faced today,” Maradona said. “It’s more powerful, but we’ll have the right players on the pitch to face them.”
Mexico’s Javier Hernandez scored in the 71st.
Tevez proved difficult for Mexico’s defenders to handle, and Higuain – the leading scorer at the World Cup with four goals – should have added another but headed a cross wide from close range just before halftime.
Messi, one of the world’s best players, again failed to score and struggled in midfield for much of the game. Still he came close: His shot in the 91st minute was tipped over the bar.
The Mexicans enjoyed the better chances as the game started, with Carlos Salcido’s fierce shot shaking the crossbar in the eighth minute.
“We had trouble getting into the game in the first few minutes,” Tevez said. “We knew Mexico was going to press from the onset, try to take the ball away from us in the first minutes and try to hurt us.”
The Mexicans couldn’t, and Argentina has won all four of its matches in the tournament.