HomeSportFifa2014 World CupMessi rescures Argentina from embarassing draw

Messi rescures Argentina from embarassing draw


Lionel Messi curled a stunning 91st-minute winner to send Argentina through to the World Cup knockout stage and rob the excellent Iran of a deserved point.

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrate's scoring against Iran

Iran spent much of the first half under pressure but more than once threatened to inflict what would have been a huge upset.

Argentina's Lionel Messi

 Lionel Messi scores stunning goal in stoppage time

Argentina’s celebrations at the final whistle were wild and prolonged, while the sight of coach Alejandro Sabella embracing Messi at the tunnel gave an indication of what this meant to the two-time champions.

The build-up was dominated by talk of a rift between Messi and Sabella, the captain having expressed his displeasure at the 5-3-2 formation used in the first half against Bosnia-Hercegovina when Messi also scored the decisive goal.

Sabella duly reverted to the Barcelona forward’s preferred 4-3-3 and was rewarded by his star man at the last.

Iran looked devastated at the end but must take immense confidence from a performance that combined defensive resilience with attacking adventure – and from the knowledge they could still qualify.

Carlos Queiroz’s men actually created the first meaningful chance when Jala Hosseini headed wide from Ashkan Dejagah’s free-kick, although Argentina then assumed control.

Javier Mascherano and Fernando Gago provided a solid base for Angel Di Maria and full-backs Pablo Zabaleta and Marcos Rojo to support Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero.

Iran goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi displayed superb reflexes to foil Higuain and save one-handed from Aguero. Rojo then headed narrowly wide, Messi was off target with a free-kick and Ezequiel Garay nodded inches over the bar. The Iran fans celebrated every reprieve like a goal.

Iran's Reza Ghoochannejhad reacts after a missed chance against Argentina

Iran had chances to take a surprise lead against Argentina, with Reza Ghoochannejhad denied by a save from Sergio Romero

Argentina fans pray

Argentina fans were seen praying as the clock ticked down with the game still goalless

Argentina forward Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi has scored eight goals in his last seven appearances for Argentina

Argentina forward Lionel Messi celebrates scoring against Iran

Argentina only had one more shot on target than Iran

Iran defender Pejman Montazeri reacts at the final whistle after his team's 1-0 defeat to Argentina

It was all too much for Iran defender Pejman Montazeri, whose reaction at the end told a story



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