By Viola Labreie
Argentina versus Uruguay — and the battle took place in Israel.
Perhaps international soccer’s hottest rivalry took to the field yesterday in the 198th meeting between the two sides.
This is not considered to be small potatoes. “Escorted by police and the drums of a local Samba band, the national soccer teams of Argentina and Uruguay arrived at a Tel Aviv stadium Monday evening, ahead of the much-anticipated friendly match between the two soccer powerhouses,” timesofisrael.com pointed out. “In what is possibly the highest-level game ever to be played on Israeli soil, the two South American giants were to face off in an exhibition match expected to pit Argentina’s international powerhouse Lionel Messi against Uruguay’s Luis Suarez.
Interestingly, they engaged in the very first Fifa World Cup final in 1930. To date, Argentina leads Uruguay 89 victories to 61.
“However, they did fall behind in Tel Aviv as Edinson Cavani gave Uruguay a first-half lead. Sergio Aguero pulled Argentina level just after the hour-mark but Luis Suarez restored Uruguay’s advantage moments later,” reported media.squawka.com. “It was an advantage Uruguay looked set to be holding onto until Martin Caceres handled in the area, giving Argentina a penalty. Lionel Messi stepped up and scored from the spot, enduring Argentina remain unbeaten in their past four games against Uruguay.”
Edinson Cavani started the scoring but Sergio Aguero evened things for Argentina. “Messi was in the mood from the outset as he rode four challenges in the first half before retaining possession and picking himself off the floor to spin the nearest defender and play the ball wide,” noted bbc.com. “The forward, who scored on his first Argentina appearance since July in Friday’s win over Brazil, had a hand in both of his side’s goals in Israel.
“First,” bbc.com continued, “his delicate free-kick was met by a glancing header from Manchester City’s Aguero, and then he salvaged a draw from the spot with defeat looming after Argentina goalkeeper Esteban Andrada could only palm Suarez’s set-piece into the top corner.”
Interest in the game is, of course, global. Messi’s free kick from the left “was nodded home by Sergio Aguero to put a more realistic sheen on the scoreline for the Argentines, who had been the more positive side throughout,” reported indiatoday.com. “However, Suarez gave Uruguay the lead again in the 69th when he scored with a powerful 20-metre free kick that flew past goalkeeper Esteban Andrada into the top corner. But the last word went to Messi who, three days after he missed from 12 yards against Brazil, made no mistake by coolly side-footing home from the spot to secure a deserved draw.”