Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Argentina tops Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-0
ST. LOUIS -- Argentina ended the year with consecutive shutouts.
There was enough offense without Lionel Messi to win the 2013 finale and frustrate a partisan crowd, too, on Monday night, when Sergio Aguero scored twice in a 2-0 exhibition victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
In the first game after Messi injured his left hamstring while playing for Barcelona, the two-time World Cup champions played a 0-0 tie against Ecuador last week in New Jersey.
"He's one of the best in the world playing on one of the best teams in the world," Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said. "When Messi's playing, it's easier for us."
Argentina outshot Bosnia 5-1, so Sergio Romero wasn't pressed in the shutout against a country that's a first-time World Cup qualifier for next year.
"We'll take it as a good experience and get better soon," Bosnia forward Edin Djeko said. "It's going to take time."
Djeko was among a large group of Bosnian players wearing St. Louis Cardinals caps as they left Busch Stadium.
"It could have been a bigger difference," coach Susic Safet said. "I'm not that disappointed. My players played as well as they could."
St. Louis has a large contingent of people from Bosnia, and the Argentinians were booed from the moment they stepped onto the field for warmups.
This was the third soccer exhibition of the year in St. Louis and second at Busch, including a match that drew a stadium record of more than 48,000 for Manchester City vs. Chelsea in May. That made it the second trip for Aguero, who also plays for Man City.
"It was an honor to play on the same field as the World Series," Aguero said through a translator. "I enjoy scoring -- anything to help us win."
World Series logos were clearly evident on the turf, three weeks after the Cardinals lost Game 5 to the Red Sox in the city's final baseball game of the season.
An estimated 70,000 Bosnians relocated to the Midwest from the former war-torn Yugoslavia.
Thousands showed up for the friendly wrapped in flags and wearing team scarves, plus a boisterous bleacher contingent lighted flares late in the second half.
Attendance was 30,397 for a game that carried lowered crowd expectations given the time of the year. Parking was $15 at the nearest multi-level garage, half what it cost for Game 5 of the World Series.
Bosnia has a player with local ties -- forward Vedad Ibisevic starred at Roosevelt High and Saint Louis University. Ibisevic had perhaps the Bosnians' top chance when he shot just wide from the top of the box in the first half.
Aguero has a pair of goals in four World Cup qualifiers. He banged in a rebound in the 39th minute after Bosnia goalkeeper Asmir Begovic charged out to stop Rodrigo Palacio and then collided with the shooter, and caught a stretch pass from Maxi Rodriguez in stride to make it 2-0 in the 66th minute.
Aguero got a yellow card in the 59th minute when he kicked Emir Spahic in the back at the end of a play.