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Messi gives Argentina 1-0 Cup win over Iran


By FRANK GRIFFITHS
Associated Press

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) -- Lionel Messi finally found a way through Iran's defensive wall with a superb goal in stoppage time to give Argentina a 1-0 victory on Saturday and a place in the World Cup knockout stages.

Iran had defended solidly throughout the game and also took the match to Argentina in the second half, creating several chances to win the Group F match and cause a tournament sensation.

But Iran was punished for those missed chances when Messi picked up the ball about 20 yards (meters) out and smacked a shot into the left hand corner.

"In the first half, we had four or five clear chances to score a goal and in the second half, they complicated things for us with counterattacks," Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said. "But having Messi resolved everything."

It was a moment of individual brilliance, and showed why Messi has been voted world player of the year no fewer than four times. Messi, getting a rare touch, quickly moved the ball toward his dangerous left foot and fired a curling shot just beyond the reach of the diving goalkeeper and into the left corner of the net.

Up until that point, he had been kept quiet by Iran's stoic defending, while Argentina had at times been exposed to counterattacks.

Iran had several chances to win it, especially in the second half. The best of those opportunities came in the 67th minute, when midfielder Ashkan Dejagah's powerful header from close range was tipped just over the bar by Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

"We know that it would be a difficult, tense match," Romero said. "Thank God I could get my hand on the ball and it didn't go in.

"Messi then rubbed his magic lamp and we won."

Earlier, lone striker Reza Ghoochannejhad's header from close range was saved by Romero after a cross from the right. He later missed a chance for a late winner when his shot was again saved by Romero.

Before the match, Iran faced criticism for its defensive tactics after a dour 0-0 draw against Nigeria. But before Messi's strike, Iranian and Brazilian fans were singing "Ole, ole, ole, ole, Iran Iran!" in recognition of the team's attempts to score a winner.

But Messi denied Iran what would have ranked as its greatest result by drawing with the former world champions.

The victory sent the pro-Argentina crowd into raptures and most of them stayed in the stands well after the match, chanting and waving scarves and flags, and watching highlights - including Messi's goal - on the big screens.

It almost looked like Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella's decision to return to an attacking lineup would backfire. In Argentina's 2-1 win against Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Group F opener, Sabella started with a more defensive 5-3-2 lineup with only two strikers.

He then changed to a 4-3-3 formation in the second half - a system favored by Messi - and he continued with that lineup at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte. In the first half, it looked like Argentina would score at least one goal, but Iran's defense stood firm and the South Americans nearly paid for several missed chances until Messi's winner.

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
caminante4 June 21 2014 at 3:55 PM

I have seen many Mundiales. I don't remember one instance in which a referee have determined the result of a game against any of the three darlings of the referrees: Brasil, Argentina and Italy. I remeber instances in which the referrees have influenced decesively the result in favor of the darlings. Example: yesterday game Costa Rica - Italy and today Iran - Argentina. No clear penaltys awarded to Costa Rica and Iran. FIFA emphasizes the FAIR PLAY. Really?

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2 replies
Roya Fatoorehchi caminante4 June 21 2014 at 4:07 PM

Shame on Fifa referees!

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eli snatz caminante4 June 21 2014 at 8:14 PM

The non-call in the Nigeria - Bosnia/Herzegovina match was pathetic. Clearly the Nigerian player pulled down the BH defender and went on to score the only goal in a 1 - 0 game.

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rjddac June 21 2014 at 6:42 PM

Girl sport

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2 replies
eli snatz rjddac June 21 2014 at 8:16 PM

rjddac,

Guffaw. You wouldn't last ten minutes chasing girls up and down the field in a soccer game.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
jijjhnsn rjddac June 22 2014 at 6:36 AM

Better than bison/football/handball 300 pounder sport.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
vjcinpalmbeach June 21 2014 at 5:50 PM

FIFA WOrld Cup

A man takes his sea at a FIFA World Cup Final.

He looks to his left and notices that there is a spare seat between himself and the next guy.

MAN: "Who would ever miss the FIFA world cup final?"

GUY: "That was my wife's seat. We have been to the last five world cup finals together, but sadly she ssed away."

MAN: "Oh...that's terrible and very sweet of you to have her here symbolically by having a vacant seat...but these are expensive tickets; couldn't you have brought another family member, fried or someone else with you?"

GUY: "No...they are all currently at her funeral."

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
soccer_sucks vjcinpalmbeach June 21 2014 at 6:30 PM

STUPID

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2 replies
philips0811 soccer_sucks June 21 2014 at 6:51 PM

Funny.

Flag 0 rate up
eli snatz soccer_sucks June 21 2014 at 8:02 PM

sucks,

Excellent argumentation. PS108?

Flag 0 rate up
Nancy vjcinpalmbeach June 22 2014 at 10:03 AM

FUNNY!!!!!!!!!! love it

Flag Reply 0 rate up
soccer_sucks June 21 2014 at 11:13 PM

He must have used a AK47

Flag Reply +1 rate up
sunshinye June 21 2014 at 8:11 PM

I hope the Iranian team don't get punish for losing. You know their country always punish their athletes if they lose. These guys play for their lives. It is probably why they made so many mistakes. What they will face when they go back to their country.

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1 reply
jijjhnsn sunshinye June 22 2014 at 6:39 AM

And other players play for money, they get punished for losing and don't get paid. Right? Some like money some like life.

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Mike June 22 2014 at 5:50 AM

There must be a lot of pressure on the Iranians knowing that their families will be killed if they lose.

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dcgoldman June 21 2014 at 6:00 PM

This is the last time anyone will ever see those Iranian players





alive.

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s4shootingstar June 21 2014 at 5:40 PM

Iran lost to 12 players 11 plus the referee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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flxrobert June 21 2014 at 5:36 PM

proof that god smiles on christians not the murderis muslims

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1 reply
eli snatz flxrobert June 21 2014 at 8:17 PM

fix,

Do Muslims and Christians pray to the same God? If not, is there more than one Heavenly Deity?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
BARRY AND KATHY eli snatz June 21 2014 at 9:44 PM

Obviiously, there isn't even ONE.

Flag 0 rate up
jurmik June 22 2014 at 7:27 AM

Rootin for Iran : > ( wish they won.

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