Argentina squeaked past Switzerland 1-0 in extra time on Tuesday, in a tense Round of 16 matchup at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Angel Di Maria scored the winner late in extra time, finishing off a great move and pass by Lionel Messi in the 188th minute.
The Argentinians again found it difficult to score goals. Switzerland was content to sit back and try to break on the counter, and had a couple of dangerous chances in the first half before Argentina took over the match in the second.
It had to come from Messi. Switzerland contained him for 117 minutes, but in the 118th, the Swiss defence gave him some space. It was all he needed, and Angel Di Maria finished off the move with a top-class strike to send Argentina to the quarter-finals.
Man of the match
Lionel Messi. For the fourth straight match, he came through when his country needed him most.
Argentina has won six of its last seven World Cup matches to go to extra time.
It was a good day for…
Letting your hair down, one strand at a time. That hairstyle from Rodrigo Palacio probably won’t catch on.
It was a bad day for…
Whatever it was that Josip Drmic was trying to do. Drmic found himself all alone on a break at the end of the second half, with Argentine keeper Sergio Romero stranded. He then did…something. No goal was scored.
They said it
"It was a game that we deserved to win in 90 minutes," said Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella. "It was even during a first half in which they had two clear chances to score but in the second half we were clearly superior, we had five or six shots at goal and in extra time we also had more chances."
What this means
If not for Messi, Argentina would likely be home at this point. The side still needs more contributions from elsewhere on its star-laden squad. A good sign is that Angel Di Maria had his best match of the tournament, and that pairing with Messi could be absolutely deadly. Next up is either Belgium or the United States in the quarter-finals on Saturday (CBC TV, cbc.ca/fifaworldcup, Noon ET).
A post away from possibly knocking a big contender out, Switzerland is going home, as expected, at the Round of 16. The Swiss have a bona fide superstar in the making in Shaqiri, and the 22-year-old may help elevate the side in the future.