Substitute Martin Palermo’s close-range finish deep into injury time earned Argentina a thrilling last-gasp win over Peru in Buenos Aires just minutes after Diego Maradona’s men looked to have suffered yet another 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying setback. Palermo, whom Maradona has recalled to the national team after a ten-year absence, tapped home at the far post in driving rain to send his coach diving across the sodden turf on his stomach in celebration. Hernan Rengifo had headed an equaliser for Peru in the 90th minute to cancel out debutant Gonzalo Higuain’s opener early in the second half.
The win moved Argentina up to fourth place in the South American qualifying table, a point ahead of Uruguay, whom they play on Wednesday, and two clear of Ecuador. Maradona sprung a surprise with his team selection, leaving big-name strikers Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero on the bench and instead handing Higuain his first cap.