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World Cup 2014
July 5, 2014
• 12:00 PM
• Estádio Nacional de Brasília, Brasília, Distrito Federal
Referee: N. Rizzoli
• Attendance: 68551
G. Higuaín 8'
That ends our coverage of today's match. Thank you for joining me and, until next time, goodbye.
Argentina - much like Brazil - continue to muddle through, and will fancy their chances against the winner of the Netherlands and Costa Rica.
You have to wonder, if the initial draw had been less kind to Belgium, whether they would still be in the competition. They have looked less than convincing throughout and failed to live up to their promise.
From the moment Argentina went ahead through Gonzalo Higuain's excellent strike in the eighth minute, you wanted Belgium to push and make a game of it. However, their attacking moves failed time and again in the final third, and the pre-tournament dark horses just weren't up to the task.
90' + 5'
There goes the final whistle, and Argentina have qualified for their first semi-final since 1990. A deserved victory.
90' + 5'
Axel Witsel screws a volley over the crossbar as Belgium get a late chance, but it's nowhere near finding the target.
90' + 4'
MESSI THROUGH ONE-ON-ONE WITH COURTOIS! But it's the goalkeeper who comes out on top, denying the Barcelona star as he tries a delicate chip.
90' + 2'
Nothing is working for Belgium in their desperate hunt for an equaliser and it looks increasingly likely that this is the end of the line for them in this tournament.
There will be five minutes of added time at the end of this half.
Perez and Zabaleta are involved in a nasty collision and the former is currently receiving treatment. Belgium won't welcome this stoppage.
Fellaini wins a late corner as Basanta dives in to block the midfielder's cross. Chadli gets the eventual effort at goal, but it's tame and bounces into the arms of a grateful Romero.
Lukaku is penalised for a push in the penalty area, but he doesn't appear to have done anything wrong. Luck was not on Belgium's side there.
The corner comes to nothing as Lukaku is eventually flagged offside - another chance falling by the wayside.
De Bruyne charges onto a loose ball and drills it goalwards. However, his effort is deflected wide for a corner. A rare chance for Belgium to put Romero under pressure.
Gago's first contribution is a delightful cross from the right that narrowly misses the head of fellow substitute Palacio. Argentina currently looking more likely to score than Belgium.
And here comes Gago, on in place of Higuain, who has likely scored the goal that will send Argentina into the semi-finals. And what a goal it was.
Argentina are readying their final substitution, with Fernando Gago set to be thrown into the action.
We're getting to the point in the match where Belgium will really have to push for an equaliser and throw everything at Argentina. Time is quickly running out for the European side.
Yellow Card Lucas Biglia
Biglia steps into Vertonghen's path to serve as some form of road block, conceding a free-kick and earning a yellow card. In the meantime, Belgium bring Nacer Chadli on for Hazard.
Lukaku and Fellaini combine on the edge of the Argentina penalty area, but they fail to find the quality ball that would unlock the opposition defence. Time and again, attacking moves have broken down in the final third for Belgium.
Alderwiererld sends a long throw into the penalty area, but Fellaini is penalised for being too physical in the box. Looked to be a harsh decision against the Manchester United midfielder.
Argentina make their second substitution of the match, as Rodrigo Palacio comes on in place of Lavezzi.
Alderweireld goes in recklessly on Biglia and picks up a yellow card which will rule him out of the next match. Belgium have got some way to go to earn a next match as things stand, though.
Yellow Card Toby Alderweireld
The fans are in full voice again. It sounds like the Argentina fans making most of the noise, met by a chorus of boos by the locals in the stadium.
That said, De Bruyne whips in a cross from the right and Garay almost pokes into his own net. Romero is on on hand to spare his blushes.
Twenty minutes into the second half and Belgium certainly look livelier, but chances to pull level remain few and far between.
Belgium are almost level almost instantly after making the changes, but Fellaini's header from a Vertonghen cross flies just over the crossbar.
Mirallas does not look happy to have been replaced, but something needed to change. You could argue that Hazard and De Bruyne have been just as disappointing, but Mirallas was the unfortunate one chosen to make way.
Indeed, here come the changes, and it's Mertens for Mirallas and Lukaku for Origi. Belgium will be hoping they can provide the required spark.
Belgium look set to make some changes, with Lukaku and Dries Mertens looking likely to be those introduced.
HIGUAIN GOES CLOSE! The striker goes on a blistering run, knocks the ball through the legs of Kompany before seeing his effort bounce off the top of the crossbar. Agonisingly close to doubling the advantage.
Eden Hazard, who has been extremely disappointing in this match, takes out his frustration on Lucas Biglia, leaving his foot in the challenge and earning a yellow card.
Yellow Card Eden Hazard
Higuain creeps into the Belgian penalty area from the left and, when he pulls the trigger, his effort deflects off Daniel van Buyten and goes just wide of the target. The knock off the defender completely wrong-footed Courtois.
Messi aims a free-kick in the direction of an advancing Basanta from around 30 yards, but it bounces harmlessly wide for a Belgian goal-kick.
As we've seen in some other matches at this tournament, fans with seats that are in the direct glare of the sunlight are slow in coming out for the second half. Scores of empty seats on the far side of the pitch.
Argentina get us back under way. Lukaku was warming up fairly vigorously during the break. I think we can expect to see him sooner rather than later.
We are moments from the restart in Brasilia.
What Belgium do need is some creative spark in attack. Divock Origi has been ineffective and the undoubted talent of Romelu Lukaku would make Belgium a different beast in the second half, were he to come off the bench. Argentina have dealt well with the injury to Angel Di Maria, but they will be hoping he is not sidelined for a potential semi-final clash with the Netherlands or Costa Rica.
Argentina have the lead thanks to Gonzalo Higuain's sublime eighth-minute strike and, on the whole, it is a deserved advantage for the South Americans. Belgium have offered little in attack so far, but have shown themselves to be capable of keeping possession at times.
45' + 2'
The half ends in a fairly subdued fashion with neither side pushing for a goal during stoppage time, but it's Argentina who lead at the break.
There will be two minutes of added time at the end of the first half.
Belgium are finishing this half strongly. Can they pull level before the break? Unlikely, but they're showing promising signs that they can make a real go of this in the second 45 minutes.
Vertonghen whips in a cross from the left, Mirallas meets it with his head, but the ball is directed just wide of the left-hand upright from eight yards out. I make that Belgium's best chance of the match so far.
Belgium's nine-man wall is cleared, but Messi's set-piece also fizzes just over the crossbar.
Messi goes down on the edge of the penalty are under the challenge of Fellaini. This could be too close to the goal if anything, at around 19 yards out. Could prove difficult to get this one up and over the wall.
The match is going through something of a lull. Argentina haven't really kicked on after the early goal, while Belgium continue to struggle to put their opposition under any kind of pressure.
Belgium are enjoying plenty of the ball at the moment, but it's all in the middle of the park. Origi has had limited chances to make any kind of impression on this match.
Ángel Di María
Enzo Nicolás Pérez
Di Maria doesn't need the stretcher, but he leaves the field and will be replaced by Benfica's Enzo Perez.
Basanta breaks down the left, but his whipped cross is intercepted before it can find the head of Higuain. Di Maria is down again, though. This will be of some concern to Sabella and Argentina.
Di Maria looks to have picked up a knock during that period of play. He looks to be fine, but the rest of the players are making the most of the opportunity to take on some fluids.
Di Maria finds himself in space just outside the penalty area, he tries to cut inside Kompany, but the Belgian defender does just enough to block the eventual effort.
Belgium's pressing wins them a throw-in deep in Argentina territory, but Garay clears the ball to safety.
Belgium are keeping a fairly high line at the moment, and De Bruyne pulls the trigger from distance only to see Romero punch his effort away. The rebound almost falls to Origi, but just evades the striker.
That said, Argentina have hardly looked a threat since going in front. However, with a one-goal advantage, they may be happy just to keep the ball and not take too many risks going forward.
While Belgium have had their share of possession in the opening 20 minutes, they've failed to test Romero in the Argentine goal so far. That will need to change sooner rather than later.
Eden Hazard hits the deck as he tried to burrow his way through the Argentine defence. He gets nothing from the referee and, for me, he went down a little easily. Correct decision.
After the first corner is ruled out for some tussling in the area, the re-take winds up going behind for a Sergio Romero goal-kick. A wasted opportunity for Belgium to threaten the Argentina goalkeeper.
Jan Vertonghen sends in a teasing cross from the left, but it's headed behind by Ezequiel Garay. Belgium have a corner.
Kevin De Bruyne surges forward, but his left-footed effort sails well wide of the left-hand post. Wilmots will need more quality from his charges if they are to turn this scoreline around.
Argentina are on the attack again, but Lavezzi's strike from the edge of the penalty area is blocked, and Belgium can breathe easy - at least for the time being.
It was an instinctive finish from Higuain, and an ideal start to the match for Argentina. How will Belgium respond to going behind so early on?
Goal Gonzalo Higuaín
GOAL FOR ARGENTINA! The South Americans have the early advantage! Di Maria's pass deflects to the feet of Higuain, and the striker produces a finish out of the top drawer to find the bottom left-hand corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Mirallas goes down under the challenge of Javier Mascherano. He's looking for a free-kick, but the referee ignores his pleas and the replays suggest it was the correct call.
Argentina embark on their first attack of the match, but Ezequiel Lavezzi's eventual pull-back is punted clear by Vincent Kompany before it can reach Gonzalo Higuain in the six-yard box.
Belgium are stroking the ball around among themselves at the moment, to the delight of both their own fans and the Brazilians in attendance.
Belgium get us under way in Brasilia after a change of matchball, with both sides sporting their familiar home strips.
That's most of the formalities out of the way. We are moments from kick-off, so it's time to settle down for a match that has the potential to be a cracker.
It's time for the anthems, with Argentina up first.
FIFA have been pushing their anti-discrimination message over the past two days, and we'll begin by hearing a message from each captain over the public address system.
The players are in the tunnel and are ready to make their way out onto the pitch in Brasilia. It's a full house, but expect the Argentine fans to outnumber their Belgian counterparts.
Messi will equal Maradona's tally of 91 caps today. Belgium will hope he does not mark it by ending their Brazilian adventure.
Not since 1986 have Belgium found themselves at this stage of a World Cup. The Europeans lost to Argentina in the semi-finals of that tournament, Diego Maradona netting twice in a 2-0 victory for the eventual champions.
However, the Argentina captain has failed to score in his last seven appearances when facing Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in Barcelona's meetings with Atletico Madrid, and will be desperate to put the record straight.
Angel di Maria was particularly poor before netting an extra-time winner for Alejandro Sabella's men against Switzerland, but Lionel Messi remains the catalyst in their World Cup charge.
Both sides were left to rely on extra-time to reach the last eight and, as favourites, Argentina will be looking to turn in a much improved performance today.
The fans in Brasilia are in fine voice. Let's hope we get a match that lives up to the superb atmosphere inside the stadium.
Marc Wilmots continues to favour Divock Origi over Romelu Lukaku up top and makes just one change from the 2-1 victory over the United States in the last round.
Argentina make two changes at the back, with Jose Maria Basanta and Martin Demichelis coming in for Federico Fernandez and the suspended Marcos Rojo, while Sergio Aguero makes the bench despite carrying a thigh injury.
Belgium subs: Mignolet, Bossut, Vermaelen, Lukaku, Mertens, Defour, Lombaerts, Dembele, Januzaj, Chadli, Ciman.
Belgium (4-2-3-1): Courtois; Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen; Witsel, Fellaini; Mirallas, De Bruyne, Hazard; Origi.
Argentina subs: Orion, Andujar, Campagnaro, Gago, Perez, Rodriguez, A. Fernandez, F. Fernandez, Palacio, Alvarez, Aguero.
Argentina (4-2-3-1): Romero; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Basanta; Biglia, Mascherano; Lavezzi, Messi, Di Maria; Higuain.
Let's start by taking a look at the confirmed starting line-ups for both teams.
Good afternoon and welcome to our coverage of the FIFA World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and Belgium in Brasilia. My name is Jack Davies and I will be your guide for what promises to be a fascinating encounter between one of the favourites to win the tournament and the pre-tournament dark horses.
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