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Argentina shines again, Greece, Mexico win

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Argentina looked like two-time champions and Greece finally found a way to score — and win — at the World Cup. As for France, well, it can't get much worse.

Argentina again displayed the kind of attacking soccer that wins titles, and on Thursday the Albiceleste got a hat trick from Gonzalo Higuain in a 4-1 victory over South Korea at Soccer City.

"We deserved this triumph because this was the type of outcome we'd hinted at achieving against Nigeria," Argentina coach Diego Maradona said, referring to his team's opening 1-0 win. "And this time it happened."

It also put the Argentines in prime position to advance from Group B, needing only a draw against Greece to do so.

The Greeks scored their first goals and earned their first victory in a World Cup. After four defeats, three in 1994, they defeated 10-man Nigeria 2-1 to stay alive in their group. Nigeria is virtually eliminated after two losses.

Mexico got two second-half scores from substitutes to beat France 2-0 in Group A. The French, losing finalists to Italy four years ago, are in desperate straits, while the Mexicans need only a draw with Uruguay to advance.

Higuain scored the final three goals for Argentina after it got an own goal by Park Chu-young.

"I knew I was getting chances, but I needed to convert them," Higuain said. "Luckily, those that didn't go in against Nigeria went in today.

"It was a nice challenge to score goals. It's what a striker lives for."

Argentina, which also dominated play against Nigeria, took the lead in the 17th minute when Park deflected a shot from Lionel Messi past his own goalkeeper.

Higuain then scored his first goal in the 33rd with a header, and added the others late in the second half after Lee Chung-yong cut the lead to 2-1 by taking advantage of a defensive mistake.

"I have to congratulate the players ... everything they did worked out well," Maradona said. "I am very happy."

As are the Greeks.

Although the Nigerians started well in Bloemfontein and took the lead in the 16th minute when Kalu Uche curled in a free kick, the game soon turned.

In the 33rd minute, Nigeria midfielder Sani Kaita was shown a straight red card for kicking Vassilis Torosidis.

"Yeah, of course it's of big importance," Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback said of the ejection. "Everybody who knows anything about football knows if you're playing with 10 men on this level it's much more difficult to win a game."

Dimitris Salpingidis equalized in the 44th with a deflected shot, and Torosidis scored the winning goal in the 71st after a mistake from Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

"We badly wanted this, because we'd never even scored a goal in the World Cup before," Salpingidis said. "I can't say whether we'll make it out the group. But I can say that we'll leave with our heads held high."

France most likely won't. It again produced little, and this time the team couldn't keep its opponent from scoring in Polokwane.

Javier Hernandez received a pass from Rafael Marquez and went around goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to give Mexico the lead in the 64th. Cuauhtemoc Blanco made it 2-0 by converting a penalty in the 79th.

Hernandez joined his grandfather as scorers at a World Cup. Tomas Balcazar scored for Mexico against France in the 1954 World Cup, although France won that match.

"I remembered my grandfather in the locker room," he said. "I haven't spoken to my family yet. They're my main motivation."

"Thank God I could score. More importantly, we could win against a team we hadn't been able to beat in a long time."

Both Mexico and Uruguay have four points in Group A and meet each other Tuesday in Rustenburg. France and South Africa, both with one point, can still advance. They play Tuesday in Bloemfontein.

Off the field, there were more demonstrations at World Cup venues. About 200 stewards in Cape Town were dispersed with rubber bullets and a stun grenade in a labor dispute linked to low pay for World Cup duties.

Police superintendent Andre Traut said seven people were arrested but none injured during the protest outside the stewards' employer's offices.

Police have taken responsibility for stadium security in Cape Town, both Johannesburg venues, and the grounds in Durban and Port Elizabeth since stewards began protests Sunday night.