BUENOS AIRES — Traffic was light, and Argentines gripped their coffee cups, mumbled nervously and nibbled at croissants while focusing on television sets.
As play began across the Atlantic, business halted at cafes and offices. All eyes turned toward the ubiquitous screens. With every Argentine goal, anxiety eased, until Friday's 6-0 thrashing of Serbia and Montenegro unleashed an impromptu festival.
"This is a great day for our football," said Ruben Russo, 38, a casino worker who was one of several thousand revelers who gathered at the Obelisk, a monument downtown. "This day will be remembered forever."
Four years after the national team was humiliated in a first-round ouster in Asia, Argentines seemed confident after their squad convincingly qualified for the round of 16.