Mascherano enjoys West Ham return

Javier Mascherano enjoyed a winning return to West Ham United as Argentina edged out Croatia 2-1 in an entertaining international friendly.

The former Hammers midfielder earned his 109th cap for La Albiceleste at the home of the Club where he spent the opening half of the 2006/07 Premier League season.

After appearing alongside fellow West Ham favourite Carlos Tevez in a game won by a penalty from the great Lionel Messi, the Barcelona star told of his pleasure at returning to the Boleyn Ground.

"I remember my time at West Ham well of course, and while it was not the best time in my career, I still enjoyed it because of my teammates and the fans, who are very good," said the 30-year-old in perfect English. "I have good memories of the supporters and this is a very special and historic club.

"I came back when I was with Liverpool and this time it was different again because I was back with the national team, and it was enjoyable to play in this stadium in front of many West Ham fans.

"I remember their passion and their support for me and for the team during my time here."

Mascherano was part of a near full-strength Argentina starting XI that also included Messi, Angel di Maria, Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta.

Aguero - who deflected in Cristian Ansaldi's rasping shot - and Messi both found the target as the South Americans came from a goal down to triumph, while the defensive midfielder also came close to his fourth international goal with a rasping second-half drive that was turned aside by Croatia goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic.

With a friendly against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal to come at Old Trafford next Tuesday, Mascherano and his compatriots are continuing their build-up to the 2015 Copa America in Chile.

Messi and Mascherano warm-up at the Boleyn Ground

"I came close to scoring a goal but I was a little unlucky as the goalkeeper saved it. That was would have been a nice moment, but it wasn't to be," said Mascherano, with a smile.

"We are working hard as a national team and we know we have to improve, but I am sure we will do that as we continue to work together."

While Messi's every touch was met with a loud cheer from the 19,834-strong crowd, the loudest of the night was reserved for the second-half entry of substitute Tevez, who made his first Argentina appearance since 2011.

Having played alongside the forward during his time at West Ham, Mascherano is well aware how highly Tevez is regarded in east London.

"Carlos had a great time at West Ham and I remember that his history here is better than mine! I know that he will always be remembered very well by the West Ham fans, just like he was tonight.

"It was fantastic to have him back with the national team and I am sure he will do well for us in the future, as he has done before."

Another Hammers favourite who Mascherano knows very well is Alex Song, who joined West Ham on loan from Barcelona in August.

The midfield pair, who played together over the past two seasons in Spain, met up recently, when the Cameroonian spoke glowingly about his new life at the Boleyn Ground.

Mascherano has kept a close eye on his friend's progress and that of the Hammers, and has been impressed with what he has seen.

"Alex was back in Barcelona a few weeks ago and we talked about West Ham. I know he is playing very well here, he is enjoying it very much at West Ham and he said it is a good club. I am pleased that the club is doing very well at the moment, too."