The record books will show Argentina 2-1 Peru, those delving a little deeper in years to come may even draw some conclusions about the game from the order in which the goals were scored - the home side take the lead, in an attempt to secure victory they push forward only to be frustrated by the 'bus' parked in front of them, Peru on a rare counter equalise and Argentina throw everyone into the opposition half to secure victory in the 93rd minute. The reality was somewhat different - in typical Diego style there were numerous changes from the previous team which started against Paraguay - Pablo Aimar was recalled, Enzo Perez and Emiliano Insua made competitive debuts and perhaps most significantly of all Gonzalo Higuain was capped for the first time at senior level for la seleccion. In a less than full Monumental the first half saw Argentina dominate possession without taking the lead - Higuain came closest of all when he failed to score from a Di Maria centre, not a great start for Pipita with what can only be described as a bad miss.
The beauty of live football is that you never know quite what to expect - just as you're thinking one thing the opposite happens, chuck a team managed by Diego Maradona into the equation and all predictions are useless. Thanks to numerous factors the second half was probably the craziest 45 minutes of football I've ever seen. Martin Palermo comes on for Enzo Perez. Almost immediately into the second half Peru realise they're allowed into Argentina's half and Juan Vargas hits the bar with a thumping 30 yard volley from a corner. Stung into action Gonzalo Higuain beats the offside and finishes confidently from an expertly weighted Aimar through ball - 1-0 - Maradona celebrates like he's been fighting Pipita's corner for months! Anyone expecting Peru to collapse was in for a shock, inspired by prospect of rubbing Argentina's nose in it they grew in confidence. Like a cheap pair of jeans Argentina rapidly lost all shape. The first spots of rain began to fall and within minutes a storm of Biblical proportions engulfed the stadium. Watching from 8000 miles away I could hardly see a thing as the rain fell onto the camera lens and the wind shook the TV gantry. The same excuse maybe used by the Argentine defence as Peruvian sub Rengifo was left all alone and headed an equaliser in the last minute, South Africa seemed an awful long way away. Playing for their World Cup lives Argentina attacked and Palermo who's had one hell of a week completes his international reincarnation by tapping in a deflected cross and promptly ripping his shirt off in celebration. Ninety-three minutes and counting - Peru's Torres shoots Pele-like straight from the kick-off and hits the bar.
On this showing it's difficult to see Argentina getting a result in Montevideo - an 'epic' encounter, they need a draw to make the play-offs. If both Ecuador and Uruguay win Argentina will be on the beach next summer. Plenty of plaudits for Martin Palermo - Ole's headline today simply says 'Palermo - Immortal' (there's a free poster tomorrow............) or in La Nacion 'Martin Palermo saves la seleccion from the abyss', yes and well done Diego for picking him. Hopefully Higuain is now firmly in Maradona's thoughts for Wednesday's game. Messi once again flattered to deceive, lots of tricks and runs - none of which amounted to anything substantial.
Finally - to those of us watching on TV, given the millions recently handed out to the AFA surely they could have paid somebody (or something) to wipe the camera lens........or perhaps they didn't want us to see?
View the goals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03bSFwHeMag