Damiao reacts after seeing his effort strike the post in the goalless draw against Argentina. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Who says jogo bonito no longer exists? Sure, there were no goals in the first leg of the Superclasico de las Americas. And neither Brazil nor Argentina were exactly carbon copies of the great World Cup-winning teams from yesteryear that etched their respective countries into halls of fame and record books.
But the first leg of this clash between the two South American sides will go down in history for one moment of pure magic. Nobody really minds that it was an unimportant friendly between England and Colombia when Rene Higuita performed his scorpion kick, and nobody will mind that Leandro Damiao's moment of clarity came in a game which had left many supporters unmoved in the build up.
'It's been so long since I've seen someone do that,' admitted Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella after the game, 'that I don't even remember what it is called.' The Brazilians call it a lambreta . Sabella said it was a bicicleta in Spanish, although journalists there state the real name is a marianela .
Damiao is no stranger to the move, in which he rolls the ball up one leg, flicks it over his opponent with his heel and runs around his marker to continue his run, but doing so in the Brazil shirt - and almost scoring - will grab him even more headlines. Thirty-nine goals in 45 games this season have earned him enough attention, and multimillion dollar interest to boot, but this moment of brilliance when he left Argentina full back Emiliano Papa in his tracks will enhance his reputation even more.
As it was, Damiao hit the post with his lobbed shot after his marianela. In the first half he also hit the post after skilful work from Neymar to beat two players in the box and cross for his teammate.
But while the Neymar-Damiao duo hit the woodwork either side of half-time, they suffered as the Brazilian team didn't match the potential their team sheet suggested.
Opposite them, Juan Manuel Martinez produced the strongest display for Argentina causing enormous problems in the inside-left channel, pinning Brazil right-back Danilo back. The Velez forward stood out in the Argentina team and set up early chances for Mauro Boselli, who squandered three early opportunities before going off injured after just 23 minutes. In the second half, Martinez also picked up a knock that would force him off.
Argentina applaud their fans in Cordoba after a good display in the goalless draw with Brazil. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
While there were flashes of class from both forward lines, Brazil disappointed while Argentina impressed with a strong team ethic, and made up for what was widely perceived as a weaker team than their visitors.
This balance of the game is neatly summed up by the two number 10s - Ronaldinho Gaucho and Hector Canteros. The two-time world player of the year is expected to guide the Brazil side, but with a crowded midfield in front of him, non-forced errors from himself, and a somewhat flat performance from his teammates, particularly in the first half, the Flamengo star did not manage to impose himself nearly as much as surely his coach Mano Menezes would have hoped.
"I liked the number 10," Ronnie said before even leaving the pitch at full-time. "He distributed the ball really well," he said of Hector Canteros, the 22-year-old midfielder.
As the match started there was the odd snide remark at seeing Canteros with the number 10, a sacred number used by a player in a more advanced role than the youngster performs for Velez Sarsfield. But while he wasn't the playmaker, Sabella clearly has high hopes for Canteros and won't have been disappointed by what he saw.
While he benefitted from having team-mates Victor Zapata and Augusto Fernandez on either side of him, Canteros played with the confidence of a player more experienced than he.
As a group, Argentina made the most of units of players who know each other well and found their solid base there. Six Velez players and three from Estudiantes made up backbone of the side making the short preparation time easier on the squad.
In Brazil the reaction was one of tedium after the goalless draw. 'Superlcázzzzzico' moaned Globo Esporte.com . The Argentine media were more positive, pointing to how the national team with locally-based players had improved under Sabella. But sports daily Ole headed their reaction with a quote from the Argentina coach on the skill from Damiao. "You just had to applaud." It wasn't a classic match, but it be remembered for years to come.