DUESSELDORF, Germany (AP) - Angel di Maria set up three goals and scored the fourth himself as Argentina trounced Germany 4-2 in their friendly game Wednesday to get a small measure of payback after losing to the host in the World Cup final.
Argentina was up 4-0 after just 50 minutes to dampen the home side’s World Cup title celebrations in its first game since winning the final 1-0 in extra time in Brazil in July.
“It can’t be revenge,” Germany coach Joachim Loew said. “You can’t bring the final back.”
With Lionel Messi absent due to a right leg injury, Di Maria assumed the instigator’s role, setting up Sergio Aguero in the 21st minute, Erik Lamela’s outstanding volley in the 40th, and Federico Fernandez’ headed goal two minutes after the interval.
“Angel di Maria showed why he is one of the five best players in the world,” Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said.
Di Maria, who completed his move to Manchester United from Real Madrid last week, crowned his performance in the 50th with a chip over substitute Germany ‘keeper Roman Weidenfeller, after a great run set up by Argentina captain Javier Mascherano.
Andre Schuerrle pulled one back from a rebound two minutes later before Mario Goetze, who scored the winning goal in the World Cup final, made it 4-2 with a deflected shot in the 78th.
Both sides fielded much-changed lineups to the ones that contested the biggest game in world football in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium 52 days earlier.
Germany made seven changes to its side. Captain Philipp Lahm, fellow defender Per Mertesacker and record scorer Miroslav Klose all retired after the final, while coach Loew also had to contend with a host of injuries.
“Actually I can’t make any accusations against the team, they had never played together like that before,” Loew said.
Martino, who took over from Alejandro Sabella after the final, had to do without Messi on his debut. He did, however, have Di Maria - who missed the title match with an injury.
“We would have beaten them even if Di Maria played on July 13,” Loew said.
Martino said Di Maria made himself “more prominent” than he had been at the World Cup.
The attacking midfielder showed his intention early on with a run before Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer emerged to snuff out the danger.
Neuer captained the side in the absence of the injured Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was named as Lahm’s successor on Tuesday.
Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero then got the better of Mario Gomez in a one on one at the other end.
Gomez, back in the side after missing out on the World Cup due to fitness concerns, missed three chances to score with the goal at his mercy. The Fiorentina striker was whistled by fans after his last miss and again when he was substituted.
“He was missing for around seven months. For me it was important to see how he moved, and that he had the chances,” Loew said. “Of course he still needs a bit of time to get back to form after such a long time out with injury.”
Di Maria sent in an exquisite cross with the outside of his left boot for Aguero to open the scoring with a simple tap-in after a lack of concentration in the German defense.
Lamela made it 2-0 five minutes before the interval with a rocket of a volley to the top left corner from Di Maria’s deep cross.
Fernandez’ header from Di Maria’s cross gave substitute goalkeeper Weidenfeller no chance, and a rout looked on the cards when Di Maria capped his great solo run with a delightful chip over the goalkeeper.
Schuerrle and Goetze responded and Marco Reus struck the post for the home side, which couldn’t muster a comeback - but still has the World Cup.
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