Argentina took third place in the Toulon Tournament by edging Holland courtesy of a last-minute Diego Buonanotte free kick, a goal which saw them home in an edgy and temperamental game.
With the game essentially a dead rubber, both coaches chose to give some alternatives names a start, whilst retaining a smattering of the regulars who have impressed this tournament, few more than Diego Buonanotte. The Dutch found the opening very tough, struggling to get out of their own half or even string a pass together, perhaps wishing their summer holidays to arrive as soon as possible. Argentina had lots of the ball, but were struggling to do much with it. The best chance of the first half for the South Americans fell to Franco Jara after some nice approach play, but he drew a smart save from Erwin Mulder.
At the other end Holland were edging further forward but perhaps unsurprisingly it was a set-piece which gave them their first sight of goal. Alexander Buttner whipped a fierce effort in from a wide position which flashed across goal and hit the far post. However, apart from these two notable moments, the actual football was fairly pedestrian and typical of a dead game. The same, unfortunately, couldn’t be said for the tempers of the players, as two red cards were given before the half time whistle.
It came from a pretty bad tackle from Ever Banega, who once robbed in possession by Jeffrey Sarpong, decided to rather cynically take the Ajax youngster out. It drew a melee from everyone on the pitch, and some coaching staff, which took a while to settle down. Once the referee had worked out what had happened, Banega was booked, as was Dutch captain Geert-Arend Roorda, and for his part in the chaos, Argentina’s Diego Cardozo was given his marching orders. Less than sixty seconds later, with tempers perhaps still fierce, Roorda committed a foul and was given his second yellow card, and the match was even at ten a side. Buonanotte was booked for demanding a straight red, and Oussama Assaidi joined in the fun in getting a yellow card of his own, perhaps feeling left out.
For all of the chaos of the end of the first half, the actual football wasn’t very good. Even with extra space at ten a-side, neither team was able to really make much of the game and moreover, nobody seemed to care. The occasional long shot was had, but with poor quality, and it took fifteen minutes for a real chance to arrive, coming from the Dutch, who now seemed to want the win more. Diego Biseswar, who had just come on with Ricky van Wolfswinkel, was played in with just the keeper to beat from twelve yards, but he managed to sum the match up in putting his effort wide of Marchesín’s net.
The accuracy of shooting was simply not up to scratch, a trend which continued when Diego Perotti had a sight of goal thirteen minutes from time, and on his favoured left foot from the edge of the area. Predictably though, he managed to clear the small tier at the left end of the Stade Mayol. With the game seemingly sleep-walking towards an inevitable penalty shootout, Buonanotte awoke the game from its slumber and nearly stole it with a moment of magic. He dribbled through three Dutch defenders and found himself in on goal against Mulder, but not for the first time the goalkeeper was equal to it and made a fine save. Buttner had a chance at the other end but as with his other attempts on the day, his effort lacked power.
Maybe it was the thought of having to go through a pointless penalty shootout for the players, but the last five minutes were all-action, and arguably the player of the tournament came up with another piece of magic inside the final minute to win the match. Argentina earned a free kick quite central and roughly 25 yards out. Buonanotte eyed it up and sent a left footed effort with pace at goal. Luck was on his side as the Dutch wall crumbled with Janmaat inexplicably ducking, and Mulder was unable to scramble across, watching the ball find the back of the net. Buonanotte signed off with his fourth goal of the tournament, taking the lead as top scorer before the Final, and securing Argentina third place.