BEIJING (Reuters) - Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0 under a strength-sapping midday sun to take a second consecutive Olympic soccer gold on Saturday and avenge defeat by the Africans in the 1996 final.
Despite boasting the skills of Lionel Messi and orchestration of Juan Roman Riquelme, the champions of Athens 2004 never found their stylish best. But they were well worth the win thanks to a delightful second-half chip from striker Angel Di Maria.
With the temperature hitting 32-degree Celsius (89.60F), Nigeria mounted plenty of late pressure but were unable to reproduce the drama of 12 years ago when a last-gasp goal gave them victory despite Argentina\'s protestations of offside.
The soccer final\'s noon start was the price paid for hosting the game in the magnificent Bird\'s Nest stadium, needed for the last session of track athletics in the evening. That underscored the second-tier place the \'beautiful game\' has at the Olympics.
Governing body FIFA, wary of creating a rival to its own World Cup, restricts the Olympic tournament to under 23 year olds, with each team permitted three over-age players.
Brazil, who has won the World Cup five times but never an Olympic gold, took bronze on Friday with a 3-0 win over Belgium, but that was scant consolation for crashing out 0-3 to arch-rival Argentina in the semi-final.