Captain Messi leads by example


Lionel Messi, who turns 23 on Thursday, captained his country for the first time on Tuesday and gave another virtuoso performance as Argentina beat Greece 2-0 to reach the second round of the World Cup.

While his teammates may give him presents on Thursday, Messi presented his coach Diego Maradona with a gift-wrapped one of his own - the prize of first place in Group B after three successive wins over Nigeria, South Korea and Greece.

Argentina now face Mexico in the second round, a repeat of their meeting in 2006 when Argentina won 2-1.

"I am going to use the best players I have for that match because it is qualify or die, that's the truth," Maradona said after the game. "That's why I rested Mascherano and Gabriel Heinze, Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain tonight."

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel saw his team outplayed by a rejigged Argentina side after Maradona rested key players and had Jonas Gutierrez suspended. But even with the changes Argentina were in control and Messi was named the Man of the Match.

"What can you do against the best team here?" said Rehhagel. "They deserved to win."

Image: Argentina's Lionel Messi and Greece's Giorgos Karagounis vie for possession