The Albiceleste star was named man of the match for the fourth consecutive game for his fine performance against Switzerland in the round of 16 but says that it did not come easyLionel Messi admits Argentina struggled with nerves during their contest with Switzerland, as the threat of World Cup elimination loomed large.
The Albiceleste looked lethargic as they enjoyed the majority of possession but struggled to use the ball effectively against the resilient Swiss. With the scores level at 0-0 after 90 minutes, the contest went to extra time before a late Angel Di Maria strike settled things and sent Argentina through to the quarter-finals.
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"Minutes passed and we did not want to go to penalties."
The Swiss looked determined to preserve the deadlock but Messi was influential in sending Argentina through. The No.10 set off on a darting run through the heart of the Swiss back line before passing to Di Maria, who hammered home.
"First, I thought 'gamble'," Messi explained, "but then 'Noodle' [Di Maria] appeared and I decided to pass it.
"I do not know if it [the win] was deserved or not but the important thing is that we are in another round, which was what we wanted. The important thing is that we are still in the tournament."
Argentina have made the quarter-finals for the fourth World Cup in five. The only time in the last 20 years that they failed to make the last eight was in 2002, when they were eliminated at the first hurdle.