Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo only managed 45 minutes on a star-studded night at Old Trafford, but it was Raphael Guerreiro’s stoppage time header that enabled Portugal to edge Argentina for the first time in over four decades.
The match was before kickoff labeled battle of two Ballon d’Or rivals; the return of former Manchester United stalwarts headlined by reigning world footballer of the year, Ronaldo; more so a clash of European football galacticos at the Theatre of Dreams, but a watching Louis van Gaal and much of the ‘Red Devils’ fans in the crowd held their breath while British record signing Angel Di Maria received lengthy treatment after being hacked down by Louis Nani- his United colleague on loan at Sporting Lisbon.
Di Maria was able to continue for another 15 minutes before paving way close to the hour mark. Coach Gerardo Martino confirmed the problem was “nothing serious” after the match.
“It was a tough knock,” said the 51-year-old ex-Barcelona coach. “It cut the skin a little bit. But we have had a look at it and we are evaluating the situation. We are having a look at some X-rays, some images that have been taken but in spite of that we don’t think it is too serious.”
Messi vs. Ronaldo
If you were a captain/coach of your national team and was waiting for Tuesday night’s friendly between Portugal and Argentina to cast your vote for the 2014 Ballon d’Or, then your fantasy must have fizzled out, leaving you in the clime of wonderland.
Real Madrid’s Ronaldo rarely came close to feeding the fans’ appetite, but Messi was yet ‘La Albiceleste’s’ va-va-vrum and, even had a shot scrape the near post across the face of goal early on.
Fans were disappointed the rivalry didn’t last longer, as both men were withdrawn at the break.
The much-publicised contest rarely had much to offer the over 40,000 crowd in its second dispensation, but for its dramatic end as Ricardo Quaresma sent a perfect delivery from the right flank to fellow substitute Guerreiro, who dived and headed in the winner.