Thu, November 20, 2008
Sports > Soccer

Maradona off to winning start as Argentina beat Scotland 1-0

2008-11-20 02:22:00 GMT2008-11-20 10:22:00 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Argentina's soccer team head coach Diego Maradona smiles during their international friendly soccer match against Scotland at Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland November 19, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Scotland's Lee Miller (R) clashes with Argentina's Martin Demichelis during their their international friendly soccer match at Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland November 19, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Argentina's soccer team head coach Diego Maradona shouts at his players from the touchline during their international friendly soccer match against Scotland at Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland November 19,2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Argentina's Fernando Gago (C) barges through Scotland's Paul Hartley (L) and Scott Brown during their international friendly soccer match at Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, Scotland November 19, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

LONDON, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Maxi Rodrigez scored after eight minutes to mark Diego Maradona's debut as Argentina head coach with a 1-0 victory at Scotland in a friendly on Wednesday.

Back at Hampden Park where Maradona, an 18-year-old then, scored his first international goal in a 3-1 win over the Scots in1979, the controversial star made another winning start -- to his reign over the national team this time.

The football legend looked happy when the whistle announced his first victory in charge and hugged the entire team as they walked off the pitch to the spectators' ovation.

Rodriguez gave the visitors the early lead at the end of a superb passing move involving Carlos Tevez and Jonas Gutierrez.

Scotland seemed overrun in the first 30 minutes and were unable to find a way past a resolute Argentina defence despite a better second half.

Argentina, fading after the break, also could not add to their advantage.

A chilly rain early on could not dampen local fans' enthusiasm to see their hero, whose "hand of God" goal helped eliminate England in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal, with banners proclaiming "Thank you for 86".

Argentina started dominating and captain Javier Mascherano tested goalkeeper Allan McGregor with a powerful swerving volley from 20 yards before Rodriguez opened the scoring.

Carlos Tevez cut inside from the right and the ball was laid into the path of Rodriguez by Jonas Gutierrez.

The midfielder applied a simple finish to slide the ball in from close range, prompting Maradona, his arms still folded as he protected himself from the cold, to stand up briefly in celebration.

The home side, who had struggled to cope with Argentina's pace, came back into the game before half-time.

James McFadden came close twice for the Scots with one shot deflected over by Martin Demichelis and the other saved well by goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo.

Scotland almost gifted their visitors a second goal early after the restart when Paul Hartley conceded possession deep inside his own half and Rodriguez fed Ezequiel Lavezzi, who fired over.

Lee Miller, brought on for Chris Iwelumo at the break, was soon knocking down a Kris Commons free-kick which Carrizo saved bravely at the feet of advancing McFadden in the 55th minute.

Substitute David Clarkson almost gave Scotland an equalizer one minute from time when he ran through the defence on the right but was thwarted by a last ditch tackle.

Maradona took over from resigned Alfio Basile two weeks ago after Argentina lost their World Cup qualifier 1-0 away to Chile last month.

The win at Scotland will hopefully add to them confidence when World Cup qualifying resumes in March.

Argentina are third in the South American group, six points behind leaders Paraguay.

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