Soccer

Alvarez, Messi score as Argentina top Slovenia in WC friendly

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The Canadian Press
6/7/2014 5:16:31 PM
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LA PLATA, Argentina -- Argentina easily beat Slovenia 2-0 in its last World Cup warmup with goals from Ricardo Alvarez and Lionel Messi on Saturday.

Alvarez put a second-string Argentina ahead in the first half with a shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria came on in the second half and combined elegantly to double the lead in the 67th minute.

Aguero headed down a pass from Di Maria to set up Messi, who calmly slotted the ball past Slovenia goalkeeper Vid Belec.

Argentina, which is set to travel to Brazil on Monday, faces Bosnia-Herzegovina in its Group F opener on June 15.

"We are in good shape. We are a strong group, which is what we've been hoping to become from the start when (coach) Alejandro (Sabella) came in," Messi said.

Sabella took over the national team in 2011.

"Little by little, as we played well, we gained confidence," Messi said.

Slovenia didn't qualify for the World Cup and was no match for Argentina even in a sleepy first half, when Sabella rested his top players.

Belec saved the visitors from a bigger deficit, stopping two attempts by Maxi Rodriguez before halftime.

Slovenia's best chance came in the second half as Milivoje Novakovic spun around in the area and fired a shot straight at Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

The hosts were not seriously challenged after that and came close to making it 3-0 in overtime when Messi's free kick went just wide.

Lionel Messi Argentina  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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