Botched call helps Argentina advance

Mexico's Carlos Salcido fights for the ball with Argentina's Lionel Messi during their 2010 World...

Mexico's Carlos Salcido fights for the ball with Argentina's Lionel Messi during their 2010 World Cup match at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg on June 27, 2010. (ENRIQUE MARCARIAN/Reuters)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:21 PM ET

JOHANNESBURG -- Just another black eye for FIFA in this, Black Sunday at South Africa 2010.

Yes, Argentina did secure a berth in the quarter-final with a well-earned 3-1 victory over Mexico at Soccer City, setting up a date with Germany next Saturday in Cape Town.

But on this day, that sexy matchup was overshadowed here in Johannesburg by another officiating blunder, the second in two games.

Earlier in the day, a Frank Lampard goal, in which a ball was over the goal line by at least a foot, went unnoticed by the officials, a key moment in Germany's 4-1 victory over Lampard's English side.

Hours later, assistant referee Stefano Ayroldi was wearing the goathorns when he completely botched the circumstances surrounding Argentina's first goal, a strike by Carlos Tevez at the 26-minute mark.

There was no question that Tevez's header, off a looping feed from the always electrifying Lionel Messi, went in the back of the net.

Too bad Tevez was at least a foot offside on the play, a detail that went unnoticed by Ayroldi. Not by the Mexicans, however.

When the Mexicans eyed the replay on the giant Soccer City video screen, the entire team raced over and surrounded the officials. Most of the Argentine players, upon seeing the Mexicans do that, ran over to them too.

It was a mess.

"We were stronger up until the first goal and then after the mistake the match changed dramatically," Mexican coach Javier Aguirre said.

"After the referee gave that offside goal, we lost our concentration. Referees and linesmen can take split-second decisions and they can spoil everything and years of hard work."

Brutal.

Of course, that word could be used to describe the giveaway by Ricardo Osorio seven minutes later, one that Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain gobbled up and drilled past Mexican Oscar Perez.

Then, at the end of the half, as the two teams headed toward the tunnel toward their respective dressing rooms, the subs of the two sides began pushing and shoving, turning it into a real donnybrook.

Another humiliating moment for FIFA.

Tevez, the star of the game, drilled the final nail in the Mexican coffin early in the second half.

"This was an important step," Tevez said. "We're in the quarter finals and that's what matters -- that we played well"

Javier Hernandez would score a late goal for Mexico, but it wasn't nearly enough.

Hey, at least there was no brawl at the final whistle.

That's about all the good news FIFA received on this Black Sunday.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca


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