Nick D

Argentina advance to the final 16 as they defeated a very defensive Iran team

Created on Jun. 21, 2014 1:56 PM EST

Argentina guaranteed their advancement to the knockout stages after a late winner by Messi saw them see of Iran 1-0. Argentina would dominate the game from kick off, as Iran defended with numbers and desperation against the South American giants.

Argentina celebrate as they advance into the knockout stage of the World Cup

Argentina pressed the middle eastern country deep into their own half from the early minutes and looked for a way through the heavily defended Iranian defensive line. Messi, Arguero and Di Maria were causing a lot of trouble to the Iranian defenders as they picked, probed and looked for a way to open the defence and get the opening goal. Iran did well to hold off the constant pressure and would have to rely on the counter attack or try to latch onto a long ball.
The first real chance came in the 13th minute as Higuain broke behind the defence after Gago picked out the forward with a nice through ball from the right side. Though the keeper reacted well to close down the space and smother the ball before Higuain got a chance to strike it. Iran knew that this was going to be a tough match and that a goal-less draw would be considered a major victory. They had pushed all their players back and looked to park the bus in front of their goal and let Argentina bring the game to them. Iran did venture forward on two occasions in the whole first half and did manage to win a corner and a free kick too. The kicks unfortunately were wasted by the Iranians, as they didn't even manage a sniff of a chance at goal. Argentina pressured and even a Messi free kick couldn't find the target. Then a header by Garray came close too but still Iran held on. Though it would end 0-0 in the first half Iran did manage a shot on goal just minutes before the end of the half. The Corner was whipped in and the Iranian forward did get to it but it was well clear of the target.

Iran would hold on to keep the score at 0-0 at the end of the first half as Shojaei helps his team in defence

Argentina would need to compose themselves coming into the second half and find a way through this wall of Iranian players. Iran struggled to gain any possession with the stats reading around only 28% for the Iranians. Even though Iran would have the better chances since the restart. Reza had a great chance early on as he found himself unmarked inside the box, but his header was directed straight at the keeper. Then a breakaway by the Iranians down the right side saw a great cross played into the danger area and Dejagah would rise above Zabaleta, only to see his glancing header tipped over the crossbar by the keeper. 75 minutes played and the scoreline still read 0-0 as Argentina just couldn't catch a break. Even when Di Maria found a small gap as he broke into the box down the left side and had a one on one with the keeper saw his powerful strike blocked by the keeper.

Messi frustrated as Argentina struggled to find a way through Iran's defence

A double change by Sabella saw Lavezzi and Palacio come on for Aguero and Higuain to try and find a winner against this very frustrating Iran defence. Though with the amount of possession it was inevitable that Argentina would find a way through. In the final minutes of the game just as it looked like it would be end as a draw, Messi would strike and give his country the win. A brilliant move saw Messi make space for himself just outside the box. He would strike it with his left foot and the power and curl was too much for the keeper as the ball rattled the back of the net. 1-0 and Messi once again would come to his country's aid.

Messi Scores in the final minutes as he leads Argentina to the win and into the knockout stages

Ciao for now