Friday, August 23, 2013
23 August 2008 - Argentina Finds A Way To Beat The Heat
The two teams met previously in the 1996 gold medal game, won by Nigeria 3-2 with a 90th-minute strike from Emmanuel Amuneke. Argentina failed to qualify for the tournament in 2000, but went on to win it in 2004 over CONMEBOL rivals Paraguay.
Defending their title in 2008, they got off to a perfect start by winning all three of their group stage matches, then advancing over the Netherlands and Brazil in the knockout rounds to reach the final. Nigeria, meanwhile, also topped their group and made it into the final with wins over Ivory Coast and Belgium.
They played the final at noon at the National Stadium in Beijing, where the temperatures reached 107° F/42° C. The heat was so oppressive that officials twice stopped the match so that the players could rehydrate. The Nigerians tightly marked strikers Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero, but that allowed enough space for di María to exploit for the go-ahead goal in the 58th minute—he chipped the Nigerian keeper after receiving the ball from Messi.
It was only his second goal of the tournament, but it was the only one of the match as Argentina won 1-0.