Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

‘Grozny 1999 – Aleppo 2016’

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Trump and Clinton: 'It's all to play for'

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Turkish foreign minister says troops to move further into Syria

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Court ruling expected on Gabon's contested election results

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Clinton's comedy turn

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

From Sarkozy's populist pivot and ‘Bahamas Leaks’, to failed Syria truce and Rome’s Olympic bid (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

US police shootings: Race relations and the race to the White House (part 1)

Read more

#TECH 24

Breaking the wall between technology and people

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Rural France: Challenges and opportunities

Read more

Sports

Messi magic rescues Argentina against gallant Iran

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-22

Lionel Messi scored in stoppage time to end the deadlock between Argentina and Iran as the South Americans qualified for the World Cup’s knockout stages in unconvincing fashion.

Argentina’s numerous fans had been expecting a goalfest at Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao Stadium with the "Fab Four" strike force (Messi, Higuain, Aguero, Di Maria) lined up against lowly Iran.

But the highly rated Argentinians appeared to be heading for a blank until Messi's wonderful last-gasp winner.

The result gives Argentina six points from two games and takes them into the knockout stages.

But they will need more guile and precision against better opponents.

Iran, on just one point after a draw with Nigeria, will at least take heart from a fantastic performance against one of the favourites to lift the trophy.

Constantly crowded out by two and sometimes three Iranians, Messi was unable to pull the strings for most of the game and was once again sick during the first half.

The Argentinian star put two free kicks wide in either half, and saw a shot go wide after a trademark run early in the second.

In a succession of wasted chances for the South Americans, Gonzalo Higuain was quickly shut down by goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi in a one-on-one in the 13th minute, while Angel Di Maria shot over the bar and Sergio Aguero had a curling shot saved before half-time.

With their increasingly hopeful supporters heavily outnumbered but cheering “Ole, ole, Iran!”, Asia’s highest-ranked team defended en masse but also enjoyed some forays forward that could have caused a sensational result.

Sensing an upset might be possible at 0-0, Iran were bolder in the second half.

Lone striker Reza Ghoochannejhad broke free in the 53rd minute but shot straight at goalkeeper Sergio Romero before Ashkan Dejagah saw a strong header tipped over.

Then Ghoochannejhad got behind the Argentinian defence in the 86th minute, but his shot was saved by Romero.

With the misfiring Aguero and Higuain pulled off in the second half, replacements Ezequiel Lavezzi and Rodrigo Palacio were unable to provide the missing spark -- until Messi did.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-06-21

  • WORLD CUP 2014

    All eyes on favourites Argentina and Germany in group matches

    Read more

  • WORLD CUP 2014

    Valencia fires Ecuador to vital win over Honduras in Group E

    Read more

  • WORLD CUP 2014

    Costa Rica win 1-0 over Italy, England knocked out

    Read more

COMMENT(S)