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21 June 2014
• Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais
Referee: M. Mažić
• Attendance: 57698
L. Messi 90'+
Argentina qualify for the knockout stages with this win, which comes as a cruel blow to Iran, who looked set to hold on to a point and a famous draw. Queiroz labelled the match as the biggest in Iran's history in the build-up and they certainly performed admirably on the big stage, forcing Sergio Romero into numerous big saves. However, a moment of magic at the other end ultimately settled it in Argentina's favour, as Messi netted late on.
90' + 4'
Ángel Di María
90' + 4'
90' + 3'
Iran have some very late pressure now as they prepare to launch a throw into the Argentina penalty area, but their luck appears to have run out.
90' + 1'
Goal Lionel Messi
90' + 1'
GOAL!!!! ARGENTINA BREAK THE DEADLOCK! Lionel Messi, who has been so quiet, has denied Iran a famous World Cup point. The Barcelona star cuts on to his left foot about 25 yards from goal and places the ball right into the top-left corner. Amazing finish, but what a heartbreaker for Iran.
Regardless of whether they actually win or not, this will be a famous result for Iran, even if they can only get a draw. Few would argue they don't deserve a point here.
Time is running out for these two sides now. Argentina are pressing forward as much as they can, but they are still struggling to break Iran down, who themselves look dangerous on the break.
ROMERO BAILS ARGENTINA OUT AGAIN! Ghoochannejhad manages to get on the end of a pass into the Argentina area and he races clear of Fernandez and Zabaleta. The Charlton forward gets a shot away under pressure, but Romero parries it.
Good save by Haghighi! Palacio races on to the end of a lofted pass from the back and directs a header towards the near post, but the goalkeeper palms it behind.
Good try by Rojo as the left-back makes an appearance on the right flank. He cuts on to his favoured left foot and shoots, but his effort fires wide of the mark.
Di Maria wastes a corner and Iran break down the left. Hajsafi eventually finds Heydari, who then runs up the right wing. His cross, however, is very poor and Gago clears.
Argentina are starting to pile on the pressure now. This will be a long 12 minutes or so for Iran, who are on the brink of a famous result at the moment. Can they hold on?
Important stop by Haghighi as Di Maria finds space in the left side of the Iran area, and although his shot is a little tame, he does get one away. However, he strikes straight at the keeper.
Messi goes for goal rather than crossing into the danger zone and he does hit the net, albeit the wrong side of the net as he crashes into the side-netting.
Yellow Card Masoud
Argentina now win a free-kick in a very dangerous position, just outside the Iran area and left of centre. Masoud is booked for the challenge and Messi stands over it.
Nekounam almost gets on the end of the corner delivery, but he is ultimately penalised for a foul on Gago at the back post. Scare over for Argentina.
Sabella will be cursing his players for conceding so many corners, but Rojo is forced to this time as he nods behind a Pooladi cross.
Romero is able to catch the resulting corner and Argentina launch an attack of their own. They also will a corner, but that comes to nothing as well. We are being treated to a mightily close encounter here. Can either make the breakthrough?
WHAT A SAVE BY ROMERO! Montazeri produces a fine cross from the right and Dejagah bursts in front of Fernandez, directing the ball goalwards with a good header, but the goalkeeper tips it over.
Argentina deal with the corner in less-than-impressive fashion, as the ball hits Rojo and then lands kindly for Ghoochannejhad. The Charlton man stumbles allowing Gago to hack clear.
Here's a boost for Iran now as they win themselves a corner. Nekounam tries his luck from distance and it deflects wide. They will be happy with their chances from this.
Iran have actually looked even more comfortable in the second half. Argentina are continuing to see more of the ball, but things still aren't really going their way. Messi threatened a few moments ago, but he has been quiet apart from that.
MESSI GOES AGONISINGLY CLOSE! The Barcelona man produces a classic darting run through the middle, charging past a couple of men before dropping his shoulder and curving a decent effort towards the bottom-left corner, but it goes just wide.
Can Argentina respond to that let-off by taking the lead? Well, Gago's attempt to loft the ball into the area goes flying well over the bar. Awful.
Dejagah was absolutely furious with the decision not to give Iran a penalty there and few will agree with the referee. Replays show that there was not much contact with the ball. Another refereeing error.
IRAN DENIED A PENALTY! Zabaleta lost focus when running back to chase the ball and Dejagah nipped in front when the right-back tried to clear his lines. However, he caught the Fulham man with the swing, bringing him down without making much contact with the ball. The referee does not give it, though.
Yellow Card Javad Nekounam
BIG MISS FROM GHOOCHANNEJHAD! Iran break to great effect with Nekounam who charges forward through the middle, skipping past a couple of challenges in the process before laying it off to the right. Dejagah crosses and Ghoochannejhad meets it with a header, but Romero gets behind it.
Aguero has to connect with that! Rojo is given too much space again and picks out a second consecutive good cross, but Aguero lets the ball effectively skim across his foreheard.
Much better from Argentina as Messi comes deep to collect the ball, bursts forward and then feeds Zabaleta in to his right. The right-back shapes to cross and then cuts on to his left foot, before curling over the bar.
Finally a good cross from Rojo as the wing-back darts between a couple of defenders and then fires towards the back post for Higuain, but Pooladi was covering across well and heads clear.
We are back underway for the second half as Argentina get the action restarted.
Argentina will undoubtedly be disappointed with their showing so far. Iran set out with a game plan to frustrate their more illustrious opponents and it is working perfectly so far, perhaps partly down to poor finishing from Argentina's perspective. Aguero saw a good chance saved, while Rojo and Garay both went close with headers from corners. Iran, on the other hand, have rarely troubled in open play, but they do look dangerous from set-pieces. This one is far from over, but you'd still expect Argentina to create at least one significant chance for Messi in the second half, with the Barcelona man so far enduring a quiet day.
45' + 3'
45' + 1'
Two minutes of stoppage time will be played.
This match's best chances have mostly come from corners so far and Argentina create a decent opportunity again, but this time Fernandez heads comfortably wide of the target.
Higuain has had a frustrating first half and he pulls away to the right flank this time. He runs at Pooladi before smashing a low cross into the danger area, but Haghighi collects at his near post with ease.
HOSSEINI ALMOST PUTS IRAN AHEAD! Dejagah's corner is fired in towards the near post and Hosseini meets it with a powerful header, but it goes just over. Sabella and Queiroz know; that was close.
You get the impression that corners will be one of Iran's better routes to goal today and they have another now as Rojo is forced to put a Dejagah free-kick behind the goal.
Rojo charges forward from defence again on the left flank, but he is unable to improve on his previous crosses. His latest attempt goes straight out of play. Very poor.
This first half has probably been a lot tougher than Argentina were anticipating. In truth, they should be doing better, but Iran have defended doggedly so far. Aguero and Higuain have generally struggled to sniff out chances.
SO CLOSE FROM GARAY! Messi makes the wise choice to cross the free-kick into the area rather than go for goal directly and Garay meets the ball with a good header, but his attempt goes just over.
Argentina get another free-kick in a dangerous position as Ghoochannejhad tracks back to put Gago under pressure. The free-kick is a little over to the left, however, so perhaps a shot won't be in the offing.
Promising move from Iran as Nekounam finds space behind Zabaleta and roam forwards down the flank. The experienced midfielder tries to cut a cross back towards the edge of the area, but Fernandez is there to cut it out.
Messi is made to wait before taking the kick, but he fails to deliver once allowed to get his shot away, sending it comfortably over the crossbar.
Free-kick to Argentina in a great position now as Messi is tripped by Teymourian following a clever interchange with Higuain. The Barcelona star stands over the kick, about 25 yards from goal.
Some of the Argentina players appear to be growing frustrated already. Iran are offering absolutely no attacking threat, though, so this match only looks like going one way at the moment.
Garay is the latest Argentine to see a chance go begging, but his headed effort had much of the sting taken out of it by a block and the attack peters out.
Good play by Aguero as he drops deep to pick up possession on the left and then chips a pass into the attacking third for Di Maria. The winger's first touch is heavy, but he manages to win a corner from Sadeghi.
ROJO GOES CLOSE! The corner is fired into the danger area from the left corner and Rojo rises to meet it with a towering header, but it went agonisingly wide.
Argentina are being forced to remain patient now. Aguero probes down the left and easily wins a corner after luring a defender into a challenge.
Big save by Haghighi! Higuain is involved again as he receives a pass into feet inside the area. He takes a touch and then lays the ball off to Aguero, who hits a curling effort towards the far side of the goal, but Haghighi palms it away.
Iran are forced to deal with another Argentina attack. This time Higuain doesn't lose the ball and instead play a pass to Di Maria on the edge of the area. The Real Madrid man shoots first-time, but it goes well over.
Very threatening break now for Argentina. Messi charges up through the middle and then feeds Higuain in to his left. However, the Napoli forward's first touch is dreadful and allows Hosseini to make a crucial interception.
After Ghoochannejhad and Mascherano are told off for a scuffle, Iran's corner is delivered into the danger area, only to be quickly cleared and Argentina eye a counter.
A rare foray into the Argentina half for Iran sees them win a corner. The Argentines failed to clear a throw-in and then Fernandez is forced to knock the ball behind.
There is a brief pause in play now as Haghighi receives medical treament following that clash with Higuain, but he does look able to continue.
ALMOST THE OPENER! Zabaleta plays a clever pass in between Iran's two left-sided defenders and Higuain shows great movement to race on to the end of it, but by the time he can get the shot off, Haghighi is on top of him and makes the stop from point-blank range.
Argentina are starting to monopolise possession now as Iran look unable to get out of their own penalty area. The final ball from Sabella's men has not been so great yet, though.
Fine wing play by Di Maria as he breezes past Hosseini and then fires a cross into the centre of the area, but Sadeghi nods it away before Higuain can make contact.
Rojo is involved in attack again. This time he races on to a pass from Mascherano before trying to squeeze a cross into the area. Hosseini blocks it and the ball ricochets back on to the Argentina man, who does not get the corner he was after.
Good link-up between Rojo and Aguero down the left as the Manchester City forward drifts out wide. He slips a pass down the flank for the full-back, but his eventual cross is poor and Iran clear with ease.
Masoud gives away another free-kick, this time for unfairly hauling down Garay, who almost got himself into a spot of bother in his own half.
Lovely feet from Aguero as he receives a pass in the area from Messi and then produces a couple of drag-backs to take two defenders out of the game. However, he is ultimately tackled and then the assistant raises his flag for offside.
Decent early chance for Iran! Dejagah curls in a dangerous free-kick from the left and Hosseini flicks it on towards the back post and it goes out of play just before Ghoochannejhad can latch on to it.
It has been a start without flow so far, with the Iranians committing a couple of fouls. Di Maria is forced off for a few moments to seek medical attention after a kick from Masoud, but he should be fine.
Off we go! Iran get the action started in Belo Horizonte.
The two teams are now out on the pitch as we await the national anthems.
It is 16 years to the day since Mehdi Mahdavikia scored the winner in a 2-1 triumph over USA in France '98, their first and only World Cup victory to date. With Queiroz's comments in mind, wouldn't this be the perfect time to double their tally?
Iran, meanwhile, played out a quite dreadful 0-0 draw with Nigeria in their opening match. Reza Ghoochanejhad looked dangerous in flashes, although he was generally quiet, while Fulham's Ashkan Dejagah offered very little on the flanks. Like Sabella, Carlos Queiroz will be hoping for a better show today, declaring this as the biggest match in Iran's football history.
Alejandro Sabella's Argentina will be hoping to build on their 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina from matchday one, but the coach will not only be hoping for a better display, he'll be expecting one. Despite taking the lead early through a Sead Kolasinac own-goal, Argentina rarely looked convincing and they relied upon a moment of magic from Lionel Messi - who wasn't at his best - to ultimately secure the win.
Iran subs: Ahmadi, Heydari, Reza Haghighi, Jahanbakhsh, Ansarifard, Hadadifar, Mahini, Alenemeh, Rahmani, Beikzadeh, Beitashour, Davari.
Iran (4-3-3): Haghighi; Hosseini, Sadeghi, Montazeri, Pooladi; Shojaei, Nekounam, Teymourian; Dejagah, Ghoochannejhad, Hajsafi.
Argentina subs: Orion, Andujar, Campagnaro, Biglia, Perez, Maxi Rodriguez, Augusto Fernandez, Demichelis, Palacio, Alvarez, Lavezzi, Basanta.
Argentina (4-2-2-2): Romero; Zabaleta, Garay, Fernandez, Rojo; Gago, Mascherano; Di Maria, Messi; Higuain, Aguero.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS:
Hello and welcome to the LIVE text commentary of the FIFA World Cup Group F meeting between Argentina and Iran in Belo Horizonte. My name is Ryan Benson and I shall be describing the action to you today.
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