Higuain struck once in the first half and twice in quick succession after the break as Diego Maradona’s side made it two wins out of two in Group B and fired another warning that they are one of the teams to beat in South Africa.
An own goal from Park Chu-Young got Argentina off to the perfect start before Higuain nodded in, and after Martin Dimichelis’ error allowed Lee Chung-Yong to pull a goal back, Maradona’s side got the goals their dominance perhaps deserved.
It was an authority they had exerted from the first whistle and, despite a spell of South Korean pressure in the second half as they pressed for an equaliser, Argentina were thoroughly deserving of the points.
South Korea coach Huh Jung-Moo, who played against Maradona at the 1986 World Cup, saw his team struggle to live with Argentina’s quick tempo and the quality of their pass-and-move football.
They took the lead when Lionel Messi’s free-kick from the left hit the unfortunate Park Chu-Young on the knee before flying in and the goal buoyed an already buzzing Albiceleste as they continued to attack the South Korea goal with pace and in numbers.
South Korea’s brief forays forward were resulting in the occasional shot from range, with Ki Sung-Yeung’s 25-yard screamer flying narrowly over, but after Carlos Tevez had drilled a free-kick inches too high, Argentina doubled their lead thanks to more shaky defending.
This time, Messi and Maxi Rodriguez were allowed all the time and space they wanted to take a quick free-kick down the left and when Maxi’s cross was flicked on by Nicolas Burdisso, Higuain had the simple task of nodding in.
Angel di Maria then forced a flying save from Jung Sung-Ryong, and Messi thrilled the crowd with a brilliantly jinking run before clipping a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
But with half-time looming, Dimichelis handed South Korea an unlikely lifeline. Caught between deciding to clear his lines or pass back to his goalkeeper he did neither, and Lee nipped in to steal the ball off him and superbly finish past the advancing Sergio Romero.
Suddenly there was a game on, and the teams traded attacks after the break.
Higuain’s close-range finish brought a stunning save from Jung, and Tevez forced another save from Jung with his 20-yard drive, while at the other end Yeom Ki-Hun wasted a golden chance to get South Korea back on level terms as he shot wide when he came through one-on-one with Romero after Lee’s fine pass.
Yeom paid the price when Argentina counter-attacked, and after Messi’s shot hit the post Higuain tapped in. But they saved their best for last as Messi’s stunning chip enabled Sergio Aguero to cross for Higuain to head home to complete his treble.
It was the first World Cup hat-trick since Portugal’s Pauleta in 2002 and the first from an Argentine since Gabriel Batistuta in 1998. — BBCOnline.