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Mixed fortunes

Micho marches on, Ribéry on the brink

Thursday’s group matches at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa brought strongly contrasting fortunes for the two Bayern men involved. Martin Demichelis and his Argentina team-mates eased to an impressive 4-1 triumph against Korea Republic and are now sitting pretty at the top of Group B after two wins from their two matches, but Frank Ribéry and France are heading for the exit after slumping to a 2-0 defeat against lively Mexico.

In the lunchtime kick-off, Demichelis and the Albiceleste took on the Koreans in front of an 82,174 crowd at Soccer City in Johannesburg and fully lived up to their billing as joint favourites for the trophy. Park Chu-Yong put through his own goal on 16 minutes, before Real Madrid superstar Gonzalo Higuain fired a hat-trick (33, 76, 80) to seal a merited win for Diego Maradona’s men.

The outcome reflected the balance of play and was only briefly in doubt when Lee Chung-Yong pulled a goal back in first-half stoppage time, after Demichelis was uncharacteristically caught in possession near his own goal. Although the Gauchos have maximum points so far, the constellation in the group means they technically still need a point from next Tuesday’s meeting with Greece to be absolutely sure of a berth in the last sixteen.