SOLNA, Sweden (AP) — Argentina beat Sweden 3-2 in a friendly Wednesday despite Lionel Messi being held scoreless, as first-half goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero helped decide the game early.
Messi's team controlled both halves with a superior passing game and should have won with a wider margin, but Rasmus Elm's free-kick goal in injury time polished the score for the Swedes. "I think we moved the ball very well," Argentina coach Alejandro Sabello said. "We had some problems with the aerial game, as they had some tall people."
Argentina took an early lead through an own goal when Higuain's shot deflected off Sweden defender Mikael Lustig. Jonas Olsson equalized for the hosts with a powerful header on Kim Kallstrom's corner kick. But Argentina replied immediately as Angel Di Maria slipped a deft pass to Aguero, who easily beat Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson.
Higuain made it 3-1 in the 23rd minute, picking up the rebound when Isaksson couldn't hold Messi's shot. Messi nearly scored with an elegant lob in the second half, but Isaksson cleared the ball with a bicycle kick over the goal line.
Argentina dominated possession and looked comfortable even as Zlatan Ibrahimovic tried to rally the Swedes before the break. The Sweden captain came off at halftime after creating a few half-chances but no shot on goal.
Sweden coach Erik Hamren said his team lost the ball too easily at times, but admitted that Argentina was stronger. "They have a skilled team with a lot of skilled players," Hamren said. "You can park the bus in front of your own goal and hope for counterattacks. We chose to play our own game."
Messi had a close encounter with a supporter toward the end of the game when a fan dressed in a Barcelona shirt ran onto the pitch and hugged the four-time world player of the year, kissing him on the forehead. The fan was quickly escorted away by security and Messi wiped his face with his shirt before continuing the game.