Johannesburg, Jun 18 (DPA): Argentine coach Diego Maradona praised his sensational team after a Gonzalo Higuain hat-trick took the side a giant step towards the World Cup knockout stage with a comfortable 4-1 victory over South Korea Thursday.
The South Americans top Group B with six points from two games and Maradona said afterwards that his side played a great match.
"We want to go on playing this way. We want to follow this path," he said, adding that they were not thinking of their opponents.
The game in Soccer City was opened by an own goal by Park Chu Young in the 17th minute and Higuain made it 2-0 for the two-time world champions after 33 minutes in bitterly cold but sunny conditions at Johannesburg's Soccer City.
Lee Chung Yong halved the deficit a minute into first half stoppage time. But Higuain added his second goal of the day in the 76th minute and completed the hat-trick in the 80th.
Man-of-the-match Higuin said that he was very pleased with the result. "It was an important victory. The team played very well. All in all, it a very positive result and we are happy with the match, but we are not too euphoric."
He said that winning the Golden Boot was a major challenge. "But the important thing is to think of the team. It makes you very happy when you score and when you can do something for the team."
Both coaches made one change from their opening match line-ups, with Maxi Rodriguez replacing Juan Sebastian Veron in the Argentina midfield and Oh Beom Seok filling in for Cha Du Ri at right back for South Korea.
Argentina controlled the game early on though Angel Di Maria and Higuain both missed chances in the first eight minutes.
The South Americans grabbed the lead at the 17-minute mark on an own goal. Lionel Messi's free kick into the area deflected off the right shin of Korean striker Park Chu Young at the edge of the box and past dumbfounded keeper Jung Sung Ryong.
South Korea tried to answer the opening goal with a long blast two minutes later by Ki Sung Yeung, who went just over the crossbar.
Argentina nearly doubled the advantage in the 28th but Carlos Tevez's nearly 25-yard free kick went just over the bar.
But Higuain got the job done in the 33rd minute. Rodriguez struck a cross which was flicked on by Nicolas Burdisso to the Real Madrid striker, who was left unmarked at the far right post and headed home a downward header.
Argentina continued their push forward, but keeper Jung fended away a tough blast by Di Maria in the 39th minute. And Messi was just inches wide right with a chip shot a minute before the break.
South Korea stole a goal back a minute into first half stoppage time as Argentina defender Martin Demichelis did not see a charging Lee Chung Yong, who snatched the ball from the Bayern Munich centre back and then poked a shot past Argentine keeper Sergio Romero.
Argentine Javier Mascherano said the noise at Soccer City played a factor in the goal just before the break.
"The noise makes it impossible to hear your team-mate, but while FIFA do nothing about it then it is not going to change," said Mascherano.
Little changed after the break with Diego Maradona's men the dominating team - though Jung came up with a fine stop on Higuain's shot in the 52nd minute.
The Asians however had a golden chance on the counter attack six minutes later but Yeom Ki Hun's left foot attempt went just inches wide right.
Messi was magical at moments but remained without a goal - though he set up the 3-1 score in the 76th minute. Korean keeper Jung stopped the Barca star's first attempt only to watch Messi's rebound shot bang off the near left post directly to Higuain, who slotted into the empty net.
Higuain was the beneficiary of some beautiful passing to complete his hat-trick in the 80th minute. Messi looped the ball over the Korean defence to Sergio Aguero, who sent a fine cross Higuain for a header against the run of Jung for a 4-1 scoreline.