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2014 World Cup Roundup: Argentina, Belgium scrape through into quarter-finals
Argentina 1-0 Switzerland
A late Di Maria strike put the Argentines into the quarter-finals of the World Cup after another frustrating game.
In a very dull first 90 minutes, Argentina played slightly better than the Swiss creating more chances. The Swiss defence managed to contain Messi very well as he was unable to play freely for the majority of the match.
Di Maria, who had a very poor game losing the ball 51 times, producing poor crosses and wasting great chances, managed to redeem himself in the 118th minute when he scored the winner. Messi was the provider with an excellent run and then he was able to find Di Maria on the right wing, who’s first-time low strike cooly curled the ball into the back of the net.
It was only after Argentina took the lead that the game started to liven up with Switzerland piling on the pressure, and with goalkeeper Diego Benaglio playing practically upfront for the final five minutes – even attempting a bicycle kick from a corner. Dzemaili had a glorious chance to equalise for Switzerland when his headed ball hit the post and rebounded into him but he was unable to redirect it towards goal. With the goalkeeper in the opposite half, Di Maria had a chance to score another goal but his shot from the half-way line missed the open goal and rippled the side netting. Shaqiri won his side a free-kick just outside the box directly central to the goal seconds before the final whiste, and with the last kick of the game he hit the wall.
Belgium o-0 USA (2-1 AET)
In arguably one of the most entertaining games of the World Cup so far, a strong Belgian side struggled to overcome the passionate USA national team.
Belgium started very strongly and 40 seconds into the game Divock Origi forced a save from American goalkeeper Tim Howard – one of a record-breaking 16 saves during a World Cup match in a heroic performance from the Everton man. America didn’t sit back either taking the game to Belgium with Clint Dempsey having chances to give his side the lead. In a very open game dominated more by Belgium, neither side was able to convert chances into goals, mainly due to excellent goalkeeping and at the end of normal play the match ended 0-0.
Within three minutes of extra time starting, Belgium took the lead when substitute Romelu Lukaku set up Kevin De Bruyne, who slotted past Tim Howard. The goal sparked an American urgency and they started piling players forward, leaving themselves exposed at the back, and Lukaku took advantage of this in the 105th minute when he smashed a shot from the left side past Howard.
Just two minutes later, 19-year-old American-German substitute Julian Green scored a fantastic half volley past Thibaut Courtois with his first touch of the game to really liven up the final minutes. America had one last chances to equalise but the shot was sliced by Jermaine Jones.
Belgium came out victors and will play Argentina in the quarter-finals on Saturday.