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World Cup - Brazil 2014

Saturday, 21 June 2014,

Argentina
1
-
Full Time
Live
-
0
Iran
  • Kickoff: 17:00 BST
  • Stadium: Estadio Mineirão
  • Referee: -
  • Stadium: Estadio Mineirão
  • Attendance: 57,698
  • 91' Lionel Messi

    Argentina

    Half time

    Full time

    Iran

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    Argentina vs. Iran: 50-50 Challenge

    Our expert bloggers will give their thoughts ahead of each game, so as Argentina take on Iran in Group F, Sam Kelly (Argentina) and Afshin Afshar (Iran) are your guides.

    What's at stake?

    Sam Kelly: Off-field political talk aside, there's not much in a footballing sense between these nations. They've met just once before, in 1977 during a friendly competition that celebrated Real Madrid's 75th anniversary. That match ended in a 1-1 draw in the Bernabeu. Of course, regardless of the opposition, Argentina have one big prize in play here -- if they win, and the match between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria ends all square, Argentina will have topped the group with a game to spare.

    Afshin Afshar: Argentina and Iran's head-to-head history is limited to a friendly in Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in 1977. The occasion was the 75th anniversary of Real Madrid. The two sides reached the semifinals of the four-team tournament and tied 1-1 in regular time, with Argentina prevailing in the ensuing penalty shootout.

    Not many experts give Team Melli much of a chance against Albiceleste. As a matter of fact, most Iranian fans have already written this match off as a loss; however, not all will be lost in case of a defeat. Team Melli will still be in the hunt for the second spot going into the final round of the group stage. However, they must ensure that they not let in too many goals against the very fearsome Argentine offense. The Team Melli players and their coaching staff are very motivated to show the world that they are not the pushovers that everyone forecasted them to be prior to the start of the tournament.

    X factor

    SK: I'll be keeping an eye on Fernando Gago in this one. His introduction at half-time of the opening 2-1 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina was as important to Argentina's second-half improvement as Gonzalo Higuain's entrance, and both will be playing from the start here as Alejandro Sabella moves back to his first choice 4-3-3 system. To that end, Gago's role in knitting together passes in the midfield and threading them through (yes, that pun is intentional. No, I'm not proud of myself) to Lionel Messi ahead of him will play a huge part in whether Argentina can put in a more convincing performance second time round. Even more so since, having seen Iran's 0-0 draw with Nigeria, it's probably safe to assume they'll be defending in numbers again.

    AA: Assuming that Iran head coach Carlos Queiroz will field the same starting eleven that he used against Nigeria, the precarious task of defending the world's best player in Lionel Messi will mostly fall on defender Mehrdad Pooladi. The 27-year-old Persepolis FC defender's six tackles, a header off the line, and five completed passes in six attempts on Nigeria's side of the field earned him a 9.7 index score that placed him second only behind Thomas Muller of Germany in FIFA's top ten list at the end of the first round of the matches. Pooladi will be a very busy man trying to keep up with "La Pulga", but he has never been one to be intimidated. His performance on the left side of Team Melli's defence will be a key factor in this match.

    Fear factor

    SK: Amir Hossein Sadeghi was important for Iran's game plan in the first match, and could become even more so in this one. The 0-0 draw against Nigeria was possibly the dullest match of the tournament so far, but on a tactical level Iran did what they'd set out to do pretty well: defend deep, block Nigerian attacks off and seek to play the ball out from the back rapidly on the few occasions they got a chance to counter attack. Sadeghi's passing was key to that -- 94 percent pass completion is an impressive stat, particularly for a side that ceded much of the possession. Against Argentina, they will of course again be going out expecting the opposition to take the game to them, and they will have to make the most of any respite they get from Argentina's attack. Sadeghi will have to put in a good performance if Iran are to make things count when they have the ball.

    AA: Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain, and the list goes on! Argentina is loaded with proven offensive talent, but if there is one player to be feared, it would be Messi. The FC Barcelona superstar is eager to prove himself on the world stage, and he will be ready. His skill, pace, and vision is nothing like Team Melli defenders have ever experienced. He will be the one leading the onslaught against Team Melli on Saturday.

    Key battle

    SK: Khosro Heydari vs. Marcos Rojo. Heydari covered more ground than anyone else on the pitch against Nigeria, and from his position on the right of the Iranian midfield he's ideally placed to test Rojo, Argentina's weakest player ("rabona" clearances from inside his own penalty area notwithstanding). To that end, how well Heydari (and Iran right back Pejman Montazeri) track Angel Di Maria's runs from the left side of Argentina's midfield three will also be important. If Heydari gets the chances to run at Rojo and takes those chances well, he could be key to Iran's chances of pulling off a shock.

    AA: The above mentioned Messi vs. Pooladi match-up aside, the Di Maria vs. Khosro Heydari battle should also play a great role in the outcome of the match. Heydari covered a whopping 11.5 kilometres against Nigeria, linked well with fullback Pejman Montazeri, and spent about 65 percent of his time in his own half defending against Nigerian exertions. Look for him to closely track Di Maria every time the speedy Argentine makes his runs up the field. Should Heydari manage to keep Di Maria in check, Argentina's front line will be getting fewer quality passes.

    Prediction

    SK: Argentina should be much better than in the disjointed first half against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday, and should click here with a full strength starting XI. They've also not had to travel for this game -- it's being played in Belo Horizonte, where their training camp is. They're favourites for a reason, and should be able to win this 3-0.

    AA: Still on a high from their well-organized defensive performance against Nigeria that produced Iran's first ever World Cup clean sheet, Team Melli will go into the match against Argentina with more poise. However, it is hard to imagine that they can repel all of Argentina's attacks. Argentina to win 2-0.

    91'+4

    End Regular Time

    91'+3

    Sergio Romero (Argentina) Free Kick at 94'

    91'+3

    Javier Mascherano (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

    91'+3

    Reza Haghighi (Iran) Throw In at 94'

    91'+3

    Substitution, Argentina. Lucas Biglia replaces Ángel Di María.

    91'

    1 - 0

    Goal! Argentina 1, Iran 0. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ezequiel Lavezzi.

    91'

    Ezequiel Lavezzi (Argentina) Assists Shot at 91'

    88'

    Federico Fernández (Argentina) Free Kick at 88'

    88'

    Foul by Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran).

    88'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 88'

    88'

    Substitution, Iran. Reza Haghighi replaces Ehsan Hajsafi.

    86'

    Attempt saved. Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Alireza Jahanbakhsh with a through ball.

    86'

    Alireza Jahan Bakhsh (Iran) Assists Shot at 86'

    86'

    Attempt missed. Marcos Rojo (Argentina) header from the centre of the box misses to the right following a corner.

    86'

    Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Jalal Hosseini.

    86'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) Corner Kick at 86'

    85'

    Fernando Gago (Argentina) Throw In at 85'

    85'

    Substitution, Iran. Alireza Jahanbakhsh replaces Ashkan Dejagah.

    84'

    Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Alireza Haghighi.

    84'

    Attempt missed. Rodrigo Palacio (Argentina) header from a difficult angle on the left is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Javier Mascherano.

    84'

    Javier Mascherano (Argentina) Assists Shot at 84'

    84'

    Ehsan Haji Safi (Iran) Free Kick at 84'

    83'

    Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

    82'

    Attempt missed. Marcos Rojo (Argentina) left footed shot from long range on the right misses to the left. Assisted by Ezequiel Lavezzi following a corner.

    82'

    Ezequiel Lavezzi (Argentina) Assists Shot at 82'

    82'

    Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Mehrdad Pooladi.

    82'

    Ezequiel Lavezzi (Argentina) Corner Kick at 82'

    80'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Corner Kick at 80'

    80'

    Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Pejman Montazeri.

    77'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Throw In at 77'

    77'

    Substitution, Argentina. Rodrigo Palacio replaces Gonzalo Higuaín.

    77'

    Substitution, Argentina. Ezequiel Lavezzi replaces Sergio Agüero.

    77'

    Substitution, Iran. Khosro Heydari replaces Masoud Shojaei.

    75'

    Attempt saved. Ángel Di María (Argentina) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Marcos Rojo.

    75'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Assists Shot at 75'

    74'

    Masoud Shojaei (Iran) Blocked Pass at 74'

    74'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) Throw In at 74'

    74'

    Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.

    72'

    Masoud Shojaei

    72'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

    72'

    Sergio Romero (Argentina) Free Kick at 72'

    72'

    Foul by Javad Nekounam (Iran).

    71'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Corner Kick at 71'

    70'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Throw In at 70'

    69'

    Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Amir Hossein Sadeqi.

    69'

    Sergio Agüero (Argentina) Corner Kick at 69'

    69'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Throw In at 69'

    67'

    Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) Corner Kick at 67'

    67'

    Corner, Iran. Conceded by Sergio Romero.

    67'

    Attempt saved. Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Pejman Montazeri with a cross.

    67'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Assists Shot at 67'

    67'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 67'

    67'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) Blocked Pass at 67'

    67'

    Attempt blocked. Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ashkan Dejagah with a cross.

    67'

    Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) Assists Shot at 67'

    66'

    Ehsan Haji Safi (Iran) Corner Kick at 66'

    66'

    Corner, Iran. Conceded by Ezequiel Garay.

    66'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 66'

    65'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 65'

    65'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Blocked Pass at 65'

    65'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 65'

    64'

    Corner, Iran. Conceded by Pablo Zabaleta.

    64'

    Attempt blocked. Ehsan Hajsafi (Iran) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Javad Nekounam.

    64'

    Javad Nekounam (Iran) Assists Shot at 64'

    63'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 63'

    63'

    Amirhossein Sadeghi (Iran) Free Kick at 63'

    62'

    Foul by Fernando Gago (Argentina).

    61'

    Fernando Gago (Argentina) Free Kick at 61'

    61'

    Javier Mascherano (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

    61'

    Mehrdad Pooladi (Iran) Throw In at 61'

    60'

    Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Javier Mascherano.

    60'

    Javier Mascherano (Argentina) Assists Shot at 59'

    59'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Throw In at 59'

    59'

    Attempt blocked. Ángel Di María (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fernando Gago.

    59'

    Fernando Gago (Argentina) Assists Shot at 59'

    58'

    Federico Fernández (Argentina) Free Kick at 58'

    58'

    Offside, Iran. Ehsan Hajsafi tries a through ball, but Ashkan Dejagah is caught offside.

    57'

    Mehrdad Pooladi (Iran) Throw In at 57'

    57'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Free Kick at 57'

    57'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) wins a free kick on the left wing.

    56'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Throw In at 56'

    56'

    Attempt missed. Ezequiel Garay (Argentina) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ángel Di María with a cross following a corner.

    56'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) Assists Shot at 55'

    55'

    Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Mehrdad Pooladi.

    54'

    Fernando Gago (Argentina) Free Kick at 53'

    53'

    Javad Nekounam

    53'

    Foul by Javad Nekounam (Iran).

    52'

    Attempt saved. Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Pejman Montazeri with a cross.

    52'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Assists Shot at 52'

    52'

    Mehrdad Pooladi (Iran) Throw In at 52'

    52'

    Attempt missed. Sergio Agüero (Argentina) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Marcos Rojo with a cross.

    52'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Assists Shot at 52'

    50'

    Attempt missed. Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) left footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Lionel Messi.

    50'

    Lionel Messi (Argentina) Assists Shot at 50'

    49'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Throw In at 49'

    47'

    Fernando Gago (Argentina) Throw In at 47'

    47'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Corner Kick at 47'

    47'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Throw In at 47'

    46'

    Second Half begins Argentina 0, Iran 0.

    46'+2

    First Half ends, Argentina 0, Iran 0.

    46'+1

    Attempt missed. Ehsan Hajsafi (Iran) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left following a set piece situation.

    46'+1

    Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) Free Kick at 47'

    46'+1

    Mehrdad Pooladi (Iran) wins a free kick on the left wing.

    46'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 46'

    46'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 46'

    45'

    Attempt missed. Federico Fernández (Argentina) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ángel Di María with a cross following a corner.

    45'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) Assists Shot at 45'

    45'

    Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Andranik Teymourian.

    45'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) Corner Kick at 45'

    44'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Blocked Pass at 44'

    43'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Throw In at 43'

    42'

    Attempt missed. Jalal Hosseini (Iran) header from the right side of the six yard box is too high. Assisted by Ashkan Dejagah with a cross following a corner.

    42'

    Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) Assists Shot at 42'

    41'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Corner Kick at 41'

    41'

    Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) Free Kick at 41'

    41'

    Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran) wins a free kick on the left wing.

    39'

    Javad Nekounam (Iran) Blocked Pass at 39'

    39'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Throw In at 39'

    38'

    Amirhossein Sadeghi (Iran) Free Kick at 38'

    38'

    Foul by Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina).

    36'

    Attempt missed. Ezequiel Garay (Argentina) header from the right side of the six yard box is too high. Assisted by Lionel Messi with a cross following a set piece situation.

    36'

    Lionel Messi (Argentina) Assists Shot at 36'

    36'

    Lionel Messi (Argentina) Free Kick at 36'

    35'

    Foul by Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran).

    35'

    Ehsan Haji Safi (Iran) Blocked Pass at 35'

    34'

    Federico Fernández (Argentina) Free Kick at 34'

    34'

    Foul by Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran).

    34'

    Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) Free Kick at 34'

    33'

    Foul by Federico Fernández (Argentina).

    33'

    Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

    31'

    Lionel Messi (Argentina) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

    30'

    Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Sergio Agüero with a headed pass.

    30'

    Sergio Agüero (Argentina) Assists Shot at 30'

    29'

    Javad Nekounam (Iran) Blocked Pass at 29'

    29'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Throw In at 29'

    28'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Throw In at 28'

    27'

    Attempt missed. Ezequiel Garay (Argentina) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Lionel Messi with a cross following a corner.

    27'

    Lionel Messi (Argentina) Assists Shot at 27'

    26'

    Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Amir Hossein Sadeqi.

    26'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) Corner Kick at 26'

    25'

    Sergio Agüero (Argentina) Throw In at 25'

    24'

    Attempt missed. Marcos Rojo (Argentina) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Ángel Di María with a cross following a corner.

    24'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) Assists Shot at 24'

    23'

    Sergio Agüero (Argentina) Corner Kick at 23'

    22'

    Alireza Haghighi (Iran) Corner Kick at 22'

    22'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Throw In at 22'

    22'

    Attempt saved. Sergio Agüero (Argentina) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Gonzalo Higuaín.

    22'

    Gonzalo Higuaín (Argentina) Assists Shot at 22'

    21'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) Throw In at 21'

    21'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Throw In at 21'

    21'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Throw In at 21'

    21'

    Federico Fernández (Argentina) Throw In at 21'

    20'

    Mehrdad Pooladi (Iran) Blocked Pass at 20'

    19'

    Attempt missed. Ángel Di María (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Gonzalo Higuaín.

    19'

    Gonzalo Higuaín (Argentina) Assists Shot at 19'

    17'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) Corner Kick at 17'

    17'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 17'

    17'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 17'

    16'

    Mehrdad Pooladi (Iran) Throw In at 16'

    15'

    Sergio Agüero (Argentina) Blocked Pass at 15'

    15'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Throw In at 15'

    13'

    Attempt saved. Gonzalo Higuaín (Argentina) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Fernando Gago with a through ball.

    13'

    Fernando Gago (Argentina) Assists Shot at 13'

    11'

    Javier Mascherano (Argentina) Throw In at 11'

    11'

    Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fernando Gago.

    11'

    Fernando Gago (Argentina) Assists Shot at 11'

    11'

    Jalal Hosseini (Iran) Blocked Pass at 11'

    9'

    Javier Mascherano (Argentina) Free Kick at 9'

    9'

    Ángel Di María (Argentina) wins a free kick on the left wing.

    9'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 9'

    7'

    Ezequiel Garay (Argentina) Free Kick at 7'

    7'

    Foul by Masoud Shojaei (Iran).

    7'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 7'

    6'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Throw In at 6'

    5'

    Fernando Gago (Argentina) Throw In at 5'

    5'

    Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) Throw In at 5'

    4'

    Attempt missed. Jalal Hosseini (Iran) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ashkan Dejagah with a cross following a set piece situation.

    4'

    Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) Assists Shot at 4'

    4'

    Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) Free Kick at 4'

    4'

    Hand ball by Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina).

    3'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Throw In at 3'

    3'

    Pejman Montazeri (Iran) Throw In at 3'

    2'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) Throw In at 2'

    2'

    Fernando Gago (Argentina) Free Kick at 2'

    1'

    Foul by Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran).

    1'

    Ezequiel Garay (Argentina) Free Kick at 1'

    1'

    Marcos Rojo (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

    1'

    Kickoff

    Show all commentary

    Possession

    77%
    23%
    • Argentina
    • Iran

    Shots

    21
    8

    Shots on target

    4
    3

    Fouls

    7
    14

    Corners

    10
    6

    Yellow Cards

    0
    2

    Red Cards

    0
    0

    Argentina

    Argentina1 - 0Iran
    Argentina2 - 1Bosnia & Hz
    Argentina2 - 0Slovenia
    Argentina3 - 0Trinidad & T
    Romania0 - 0Argentina

    Iran

    Argentina1 - 0Iran
    Iran0 - 0Nigeria
    Trinidad & T0 - 2Iran
    Iran1 - 1Angola
    Montenegro0 - 0Iran
    Iran0 - 0Belarus

    Head to Head

    Argentina1 - 0Iran

    Argentina

    • 1Sergio Romero
    • 4Pablo Zabaleta
    • 16Marcos Rojo
    • 2Ezequiel Garay
    • 17Federico Fernández
    • 5Fernando Gago
    • 7Ángel Di María
    • -> Lucas Biglia
    • 10Lionel Messi
    • 14Javier Mascherano
    • 20Sergio Agüero
    • -> Ezequiel Lavezzi
    • 9Gonzalo Higuaín
    • -> Rodrigo Palacio
    • Subs
    • 19Ricardo Álvarez
    • 13Augusto Fernández
    • 3Hugo Campagnaro
    • 11Maxi Rodríguez
    • 23José Basanta
    • 21Mariano Andújar
    • 15Martín Demichelis
    • 12Agustín Orión
    • 8Enzo Pérez

    Iran

    • 12Alireza Haghighi
    • 23Mehrdad Pooladi
    • 4Jalal Hosseini
    • 15Pejman Montazeri
    • 5Amirhossein Sadeghi
    • 6Javad Nekounam
    • 7Masoud Shojaei
    • -> Khosro Heydari
    • 3Ehsan Haji Safi
    • -> Reza Haghighi
    • 14Andranik Timotian
    • 21Ashkan Dejagah
    • -> Alireza Jahan Bakhsh
    • 16Reza Ghoochannejhad
    • Subs
    • 20Steven Beitashour
    • 1Rahman Ahmadi
    • 11Ghasem Hadadifar
    • 22Daniel Davari
    • 19Hashem Beikzadeh
    • 18Bakhtiar Rahmani
    • 10Karim Ansari Fard
    • 17Ahmad Alnameh
    • 13Hossein Mahini

    Last-gasp Lionel Messi defeats Iran

    Argentina once again required heroics from their talisman Lionel Messi as the forward scored an injury-time winner to secure qualification from World Cup Group F and break the hearts of a Iran.

    Having inspired his side to victory following a below-par performance in their opening fixture against Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Barcelona man curled home a decisive goal in the final moments of a match in which Iran did enough to take all three points themselves.

    Both goalkeepers looked to be unbeatable as Sergio Aguero had Argentina's best chance and Reza Ghoochannejhad came close on more than one occasion for Iran, who also saw a strong penalty claim turned down as they slipped to a 1-0 loss.

    Jalal Hosseini could not connect with an early Iran free kick into the Argentina box as Carlos Quieroz's side looked to take an early shock lead and lump pressure on their high-profile opposition.

    Gonzalo Higuain and Fernando Gago had come into the side following their second-half influence from the bench in the win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, and the duo combined to create the best chance for Alejandro Sabella's team in the opening 15 minutes.

    Gago played Higuain through on goal but saw his shot smothered by Alireza Haghighi, who showed quick reactions to race from his line.

    Angel Di Maria was the next to try his luck but he could only bend an effort well over the crossbar, with Manchester City forward Aguero forcing an athletic save from Haghighi and Marcos Rojo heading wide as Argentina began to dominate proceedings.

    With Iran only able to break free on rare occasions, Garay was the next to pass up a good opportunity as he only headed over from close range when under no pressure.

    Having been left frustrated by a stubborn Iran in the opening 45 minutes, the second half started in a similar fashion for the South Americans, with Pablo Zabaleta curling a shot wide after being picked out by Messi.

    Aguero could not make enough contact with a Rojo cross before Iran hit on the counter-attack and Ghoochannejhad's headed attempt forced Sergio Romero into a low save.

    Iran could have easily been awarded a penalty moments later as Zabaleta mis-timed his challenge on Ashkan Dejagah, with referee Milorad Mazic unmoved as the Fulham winger protested aggressively.

    Those scares seemed to spring Argentina back into life, with Messi only able to send a shot wide of the post after some good work from the Barcelona man, but Iran maintained their new-found threat as Ehsan Hajsafi let loose from distance.

    Romero then made the save of the game as he was at full stretch to turn Dejagah's goalbound header over his crossbar.

    The game was becoming increasingly stretched and Messi once again came close but could only hit the side netting from a close-range free kick.

    Sabella gambled with under 15 minutes remaining as he replaced Aguero and Higuain with fellow attackers Rodrigo Palacio and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

    Palacio saw a near-post header turned behind for a corner with Iran now pinned back in and around their own penalty area.

    With just four minutes remaining, Iran dealt with another corner and Ghoochannejhad was played in behind the Argentina defence but the Charlton striker could not keep his shot away from Romero, who once again pushed his effort clear.

    That missed proved to be costly as Messi took centre-stage, receiving the ball from Zabaleta and showing great composure to curl a shot perfectly out of the reach of Haghighi and into the corner of the net.

    The goal means Argentina are guaranteed of a place in the knockout stages, while Iran remain on one point with just one group game remaining.


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