Greece 0-2 Argentina

Diego Maradona sparked wild scenes of Argentina celebration 24 years ago with his infamous Hand of God goal against England which propelled his country towards their second world crown.

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He remains on course to get his hands on the trophy for a second time and become only the second man to win the crown as player and manager and emulate German Franz Beckenabuer - but only after negotiating a hugely frustrating night in Polokwane.

Maradona had to wait 77 minutes before Martin Demichelis' second international goal broke the stranglehold of hugely negative Greek tactics from Otto Rehhagel and his team to set Argentina on their way to a round of 16 meeting with fellow South Americans Mexico.

Four years ago Argentina needed an extra time goal to beat the same opponents at the same stage but veteran striker Martin Palermo's goal ensured they will enter the next phase in confident mood.

Greece, however, paid the ultimate price for their shocking lack of ambition and exited the tournament with a whimper.

Maradona was reduced to lengthy periods of arm-waving in the technical area and his frustration threatened to boil over at regular intervals as Greece's boring tactics stifled the life out of his players.

They did, however, give future opponents a method to emulate if they want to stop the threat of Lionel Messi.

Fifa's World Player of the Year was reduced to a shadow of the player he has been in previous games in the tournament as man marker Sokratis Papastathopoulos nullified his influence on the game.

Even a draw was not guaranteed to be enough to see Greece through in second place behind Maradona's side and Rehhagel's side finally paid the highest price for their approach late in the second half.

Bayern Munich defender Demichelis pounced on a stray ball in the penalty area and forced home a powerful shot from close range to break the deadlock.

Even then Greece still refused to come out of their defensive shell, but Messi finally blossomed late in the game and twice came close to claiming his first goal of the tournament.

The magician of Barcelona produced one wonderful piece of magic, cutting inside and seeing a longe range shot rebound off the post.

Messi was involved again in the move which led to Argentina's second goal, which preserved their 100% record in the tournament so far.

He looked certain to claim his first goal when he powered another shot, only to see Alexandros Tzorvas punch away another goalbound effort.

But veteran substitute Martin Palermo, who spent a decade out of the national team, until he was recalled for the qualfying rounds by Maradona, rewarded his manager's call-up for the finals by pouncing on the loose ball and rolling the rebound into an empty net.

Greece (4-5-1): Tzorvas; Vyntra, Kyrgiakos, Moras, Katsouranis (Ninis 55); Papaststhopoulos, Tziolis, Karagounis (Spyropoulos 46), Papadopoulos, Torosidis (Patsa 55); Samaras. Subs (not used): Chalkias, Seitaridis, Charisteas, Sifakis, Salpingidis, Gekas, Kapetanos, Malezas, Prittas.

Argentina (4-4-3): Romero; Burdisso, Demichelis, Otamendi, C Rodriguez; Bolatti, Veron, M Rodriguez (Di Maria 63); Messi, Milito (Palermo 80), Aguero (Pastore 76).
Subs (not used): Pozo, Heinze, Higuain, Tevez, Garce, Samuel, Mascherano, Andujar.

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