• Saturday, August 30, 2014

WORLD CUP ROUND OF 16: ARG VS SUI

Di Maria sees Argentina through

Argentina booked their place in the World Cup quarter-final after Angel Di Maria struck in the dying minutes of injury time to secure a 1-0 win over Switzerland.

Not for the first time this tournament, Alejandro Sabella's men struggled to make their presence felt in attack for large spells, with the Real Madrid midfielder guilty of conceding possession on a number of occasions.

However, Di Maria popped up with just two minutes of extra-time remaining to sweep home after some good work by Lionel Messi.

Argentina midfielder Angel Di Maria celebrates after scoring the lone goal during a Round of 16 match against Switzerland at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
Argentina midfielder Angel Di Maria celebrates after scoring the lone goal during a Round of 16 match against Switzerland at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

Substitute Blerim Dzemaili headed against the post for Switzerland before time was up, and should have done better with the rebound.

The result sets up a last-eight meeting for Argentina with Belgium or the United States in Brasilia, and was ultimately harsh on a Switzerland side who defended resolutely in what will now prove to have been Ottmar Hitzfeld's final game in charge before retiring.

Argentina were forced into one change, with Ezequiel Lavezzi coming in for injured striker Sergio Aguero, while Switzerland stuck with the same XI that triumphed 3-0 over Honduras in their closing Group E fixture.

Xherdan Shaqiri ran riot with three goals in that convincing victory, but chances were few and far between for both sides in the opening stages in Sao Paulo - a Gonzalo Higuain header that comfortably cleared the crossbar was as close as either came to hitting the target inside the first 25 minutes.

Switzerland injected some life into an otherwise dormant half in the 28th minute when Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichsteiner were both denied by Sergio Romero in the Argentina goal, before Lavezzi called Diego Benaglio into action at the other end with his team's first accurate effort moments later.

Germany's Manuel Neuer produced a superb goalkeeping display in their last-16 clash on Monday, effectively acting as sweeper at times when his defence was breached by Algeria, but Argentine counterpart Romero was statuesque when Josip Drmic found himself clean through on goal in the 39th minute.

However, the Bayer Leverkusen striker's attempted chip was tame, and Romero gratefully clutched the ball to his chest.

Romero was far from convincing in keeping out a Shaqiri free-kick from 25 yards five minutes into the second half, and Argentina looked short of ideas going forward, evoking memories of their last-gasp 1-0 victory over Iran in the group stage.

Benaglio denied Marcos Rojo from a tight angle as Argentina got a rare sight of goal, before Di Maria attempted a flamboyant cross.

Trying to be pleasing on the eye, he left his team-mates far from pleased as his showboating resulted in a Swiss goal-kick and an opportunity wasted.

Benaglio's reflexes were put to the test shortly after the hour mark as he tipped over from a powerful Higuain header, and Messi shot narrowly over soon after as the Argentinian pressure started to build.

Messi went close again with a drilled effort that Benaglio got down well to meet, but both nets remained untroubled as a last-16 clash entered extra-time for the fourth time this tournament.

Having disappointed for much of the game, Di Maria ultimately emerged as the hero for Argentina.

The 26-year-old, who had earlier forced Benaglio into a fine save at his near post in the second half of extra-time, received the ball following a probing run from Messi and calmly slotted a left-footed finish across Benaglio and into the far corner.

Dzemaili remarkably had a chance to equalise in injury time, but headed against the post from close range before failing to convert the rebound.


EXTRA TIME

Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio (R) looks on as Switzerland's defender Stephan Lichtsteiner (2nd L) and Argentina's forward Rodrigo Palacio (L) vie for the ball during a Round of 16 football match between Argentina and Switzerland at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
 
Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio (R) looks on as Switzerland's defender Stephan Lichtsteiner (2nd L) and Argentina's forward Rodrigo Palacio (L) vie for the ball during a Round of 16 football match between Argentina and Switzerland at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

120' + 5' Shaqiri fires the kick straight into the wall and the referee swiftly blows the full-time whistle.

120' + 4' Yellow Card for Ezequiel Garay

120' + 4' Free-kick right on the edge of the Argentina area now as Shaqiri is hacked down by Garay. What a chance this is.

120' + 3' ONE MORE CHANCE FOR ARGENTINA! Switzerland waste a corner and Di Maria tries to catch them on the counterattack and he races past the halfway line, shooting towards the empty goal with Bengalio up at the other end of the pitch. He narrowly misses the target, however.

120' + 2' We have one more minutes of stoppage time to play.

120' + 1' ARGENTINA ESCAPE! What a huge chance for Switzerland! Shaqiri fires a brilliant cross into the area and Dzemaili meets it with a good header. His effort, however, strikes the left-hand post and then hits him again before going out of play.

120' Yellow Card for Ángel Di María

119' What a cruel blow for Switzerland, but they are piling men forward now.

118' Goal Ángel Di María

GOAL!!! ARGENTINA TAKE THE LEAD! Brilliant play by Palacio as he steals the ball from Lichtsteiner and quickly offloads to Messi, who charges towards the area, riding challenges along the way. He eventually slips a pass into the right side of the area and that man - Angel Di Maria - coolly slots into the bottom-left corner. Redemption for Di Maria!

117' I'm starting to feel bad for mentioning him, but once again Di Maria's final pass is so poor.

113' Substitution: Admir Mehmedi OUT, Blerim Dzemaili IN

110' Argentina continue to probe down the right, but once again Di Maria tries to float a cross into the box from a deep position and Benaglio collects with ease. His final ball has been terrible today.

108' SPLENDID STOP BY BENAGLIO! Argentina appear to be aimlessly knocking the ball around just outside the Switzerland area, but Di Maria finally takes the initiative and drives a fierce strike torwards the top-right corner. However, Benaglio palms the ball away from goal with an acrobatic save.

106' Substitution: Fernando Gago OUT, Lucas Biglia IN

106' We are back underway as Switzerland get the action restarted.

105' + 3' HALF-TIME!

105' + 1' Substitution: M. RojoJosé OUT, María Basanta IN

105' + 1' Rojo is being forced off by the looks of it. He is hobbling a little and heads off for Basanta, who plays his football for Monterrey in Mexico.

104' Fantastic feet from Shaqiri as he holds off Zabaleta and then cleverly plays the ball between the right-back's feet. The Bayern winger isn't impressed and demands a free-kick, but he doesn't get one.

102' The fans are loving this, though. Switzerland are gifted possession and they keep it brilliantly, with chants of "ole" coming from all corners of the stadium.

100' Many of the previous matches which have gone into extra-time in this tournament have remained entertaining after the regulation 90 minutes, but this hasn't really followed suit so far.

98' Switzerland are doing a decent job at the moment. They are seeing plenty of the ball at the moment and they are keeping Argentina out of the attacking third.

96' Good link-up play down the left between Mehmedi and Shaqiri sees the latter win a free-kick as a result of Mascherano's unfair off-the-ball body-check. I'm not sure why he is angry with the decision, though.

95' Decent delivery from Messi as his free-kick on the right flank is curled into the danger area. Palacio flicks it on with a good header, but Benaglio dives down to his right and catches.

93' Switzerland enjoy a rare foray into the Argentina half. Lichtsteiner attacks down the right and delivers a good cross into the danger area, but Seferovic can't quite get his head on to the ball.

92' CHANCE FOR ARGENTINA! Di Maria floats an excellent corner into the danger area and a couple of players attack it. Both Fernandez and Garay get close, with the latter directing it towards goal. Benaglio deflects it behind, though.91' Argentina get extra-time underway.

91' Argentina get extra-time underway.

Lionel Messi of Argentina competes for the ball against Switzerland defenders during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
Lionel Messi of Argentina competes for the ball against Switzerland defenders during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images

FULL TIME

90' + 1' There will be three minutes of added time.

90' Yellow Card for M. Rojo

90' Brilliant run by Messi as he comes in from the left and races towards the area, holding off a couple of challenges and then poking a pass into the area for Palacio. The Inter man's first touch is poor and Switzerland crowd Argentina out of a chance.

88' Switzerland haven't got long left now. They are doing well to hold on, but Argentina are piling on the pressure and Messi is becoming increasingly dangerous.

87' The referee is forced into action here as Messi and Behrami clash. Messi wins the ball and the free-kick and when attempting to take the set-piece quickly, he barges the Switzerland midfielder over.

85' The Swiss deal with the corner, albeit unconvincingly as they knock the ball straight back out towards the left. Messi then crosses again, but Schar hacks it away.

84' Sabella's men probe down the left yet again. Rojo does well to come inside Fernandes, whose attempted tackle is feeble. Di Maria receives the cut-back and tries to smash a half-volley towards goal, but it is blocked behind for a corner.

82' Substitution: Josip Drmic OUT, Haris Seferovic IN

82' Respite for Switzerland as the smash the ball clear from the back and Drmic is cynically brought down by Garay near the halfway line. Argentina will be back on the attack soon enough, though.

81' Argentina are growing a little frustrated with this referee. Messi jinks past his man on the edge of the box and looks set to find space in the area, but he is clearly tripped. No free-kick give, however.

79' After Benaglio receives medical attention, Argentina fire the corner into the danger area and the goalkeeper comes out to punch clear. Can they hold on?

77' MESSI DENIED BY BENAGLIO! Argentina's pressure is growing and Switzerland are struggling. Messi skips past Behrami and charges into the area, shooting low in the process. Benaglio makes the stop and Switzerland clear for a corner, while Argentina claim Palacio should have been given a penalty for a slight nudge.

75' BIG CHANCE FOR ARGENTINA! The South Americans are tearing through Switzerland at will now and Messi is finding a lot of space. He clips a clever cross into the danger area and they look destined to find the net, but the unchallenged Palacio heads wide.

74' Substitution: Ezequiel Lavezzi OUT, Rodrigo Palacio IN

73' Yellow Card for Gelson Fernandes

73' He hasn't been on the pitch for long, but Fernandes is the latest Swiss player to earn a booking. Di Maria races away from his own area and he is callously cut down in full flight as he approached the Switzerland half.

71' Finally, a prolonged spell of possession for Switzerland. They have managed to break out of their own penalty area and Shaqiri gets on to the ball on the left. He links up well with Mehmedi and then looks for his team-mate again after receiving the ball back, but the eventually cross is dreadful.

Argentina's forward and captain Lionel Messi controls the ball during the second half of a Round of 16 football match between Argentina and Switzerland at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
Argentina's forward and captain Lionel Messi controls the ball during the second half of a Round of 16 football match between Argentina and Switzerland at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

69' MESSI GOES CLOSE! Switzerland manage to clear a cross from the left, but the ball is only knocked as far Messi, who is standing right on the edge of the box. He controls the ball and unleashes a fierce half-volley, but it goes just over.

67' Another Argentina chance goes begging. Messi produces a very clever pass in between Rodriguez and Mehmed, picking out the run of Mascherano. The midfielder cross and Higuain gets his head on it, but his effort flies across the face of goal.

66' Substitution: Granit Xhaka OUT, Gelson Fernandes IN

66' There is the first change for Switzerland. Xhaka, who has been extremely poor, is taken off for Gelson Fernandes. The former Manchester City midfielder will put himself about and will be a big help to those in the middle.

65' This is all Argentina at the moment. Switzerland's intense pressing performance in the first half appears to have taken its toll and they are looking laboured, particularly in midfield.

63' GREAT SAVE BY BENAGLIO! Rojo crosses from the left and Higuain manages to nip ahead of his marker to meet it with a header, but Benaglio tips it over the bar in acrobatic style.

62' Argentina are ramping up the pressure, though. They may have been wasteful so far, but they are keeping Switzerland encamped in their own area at the moment.

60' What a waste from Di Maria. The winger gets into space down the right hand side and has so much time to get a cross into the box, but he attempts a 'rabona' and slices the ball straight out of play.

58' ROJO TESTS BENAGLIO! Messi finally comes to life in this second half as he picks the ball up in a deep position, before drifting over towards the left. Eventually he finds Lavezzi, who then slips a pass forward for Rojo. The left-back's cross, or shot, goes straight at Benaglio, who is forced into action.

56' Clever turn on the halfway line by Drmic as the 21-year-old receives a pass into his feet and then, after the ball sits up kindly for him, he flicks the ball past Fernandez, who was approaching from behind. The Argentina defender fouls him in cynical fashion.

54' This match does appear to be opening up a little more. It was very tight in the first half, but both sides have looked more inclined to pour men forward since the break.

52' Decent move from Switzerland and unsurprisingly Shaqiri and Inler are involved. The latter plays the Bayern man into the left side of the area and cuts a good ball back into the area, but Drmic blazes over.

51' At the other end, Shaqiri stands over a free-kick and curls the ball towards the top-right corner. Romero keeps the ball out of the net, but he fails to keep a hold of it as he fumbles with the loose ball. He has not been very convincing.

49' Xhaka is lucky to escape a second yellow card there. Messi jinked in from the right and easily skipped past the 21-year-old, who tripped the Barcelona man up. Argentina are unable to punish them from the free-kick, though, as Benaglio punches clear.

47' Good defending by Djourou. Argentina attack down the left and Lavezzi bursts into the area, aiming a low cross into the danger zone for Higuain. The Napoli forward looks destined to flick it into the goal, but Djourou covers well and blocks the effort.

46' We're back underway for the second half!


Josip Drmic of Switzerland and Fernando Gago of Argentina compete for the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
Josip Drmic of Switzerland and Fernando Gago of Argentina compete for the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images

FIRST HALF

Well, that was pretty disappointing. There have been very few moments to get excited about and neither side has looked totally convincing in attack. Hitzfeld will probably be the happier coach considering his side have not looked particularly troubled, while they also had the best chance of the half as Drmic wasted a one-on-one. Nevertheless, this has by no means been one of the World Cup's better games.

43' Switzerland are currently encamped in their own area as Argentina probe for a late goal, but the defence is holding firm. Messi cleverly plays Rojo into the left side of the penalty area and he cuts a pass back from the byline, but Switzerland cut it out.

41' Argentina immediately get themselves back on to the attack and create a decent chance for themselves, but when the ball drops to Di Maria at the back post following Messi's pass, he hits a tame effort straight at Benaglio.

39' DRMIC WITH A GREAT CHANCE! The forward races forward to collect a throughball from the halfway line and he is given so much space by Garay. He picks up possession on the edge of the area when one-on-one with Romero, who is no-man's land, but Drmic's chip attempt is dreadful and goes straight into the hands of the goalkeeper.

37' Lavezzi is the latest to exhibit some fancy footwork out on the flank. Xhaka, Shaqiri and Lichtsteiner crowd around him and after skipping past two of them, he is felled by the former.

36' Yellow Card for Granit Xhaka

36' Shaqiri fires in an inviting delivery from the right and although a couple of team-mates almost direct it goalwards, Romero launches himself into the air and punches clear.

34' Lovely feet from Shaqiri on the right. He holds off Rojo and Gago, keep the ball at the same time and then, after linking up with Lichtsteiner, he draws Lavezzi into conceding a foul.

32' Free-kick to Switzerland on the halfway line as Gago goes in hard on Drmic, catching the forward with a late challenge. No yellow card given, however.

30' Argentina are back on the attack though. Higuain does well to head the ball into the right side of the Swiss area and Lavezzi meets it, but his right-footed volley is tame and Benaglio denies easily. Then, from the resulting corner, Garay agonisingly fails to connect with the delivery and Switzerland escape.

28' BIG SAVE FROM ROMERO! Shaqiri does brilliantly down the right flank as he runs at Gago, produces a couple of stepovers and then breezes past his marker. The Bayern man cuts a pass back into the danger area and Xhaka sees his effort blocked by the goalkeeper towards the bottom-right corner.

26' Messi floats a delivery into the area from the free-kick, but Higuain's header goes comfortably over the crossbar. That is probably the best chance of the match so far, which says a lot.

Argentina's forward and captain Lionel Messi (L) and Switzerland's midfielder and captain Goekhan Inler vie for the ball during the Round of 16 football match between Argentina and Switzerland at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images
Argentina's forward and captain Lionel Messi (L) and Switzerland's midfielder and captain Goekhan Inler vie for the ball during the Round of 16 football match between Argentina and Switzerland at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on July 1, 2014. Photo: Getty Images

25' Di Maria is seemingly bored of sticking to the left and he pops up on the right this time. He cuts inside and rides one challenge before being knocked over. They now have a free-kick in a good position.

23' Nice interchange between Gago and Messi in the Switzerland half, but the latter is barged off the ball again, this time by Behrami. Their physical tactics have worked so far, with the Barcelona man unable to work his magic until now.

22' This is starting to get feisty now. Inler does well in the middle again, using his strength to take Messi off the ball and out of the equation. He is then caught late by Mascherano, who is a little lucky to escape a yellow card.

21' Di Maria gets his retribution on Lichtsteiner, clattering into the right-back well after the ball had left. Argentina aren't happy about the awarding of the free-kick, but they can't possibly have any complaints about that one.

20' Clever play by Messi as he cuts inside Rodriguez and then charges between the left-back and Djourou. However, he starts to stumble and Rodriguez gets back to barge him out of the way.

18' Di Maria is getting very angry with the referee. He receives possession just inside his own half, skips past one tackle and then has to deal with Behrami, who is all over him. The Switzerland man concedes a foul and Di Maria is asking why that didn't warrant a yellow card.

16' Argentina's first attack from the right is in full swing as Zabaleta is played into the final third. The right-back takes a touch and then crosses into the area, but Benaglio comes out and plucks the ball from the sky in commanding fashion.

Granit Xhaka of Switzerland challenges Angel di Maria of Argentina during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
Granit Xhaka of Switzerland challenges Angel di Maria of Argentina during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images

15' Wonderful play by Messi. The Argentina captain receives a pass just inside the Swiss half and with the ball bouncing up, he keeps the ball in the air and then knocks it between two defenders, who have no option but to nudge him over.

13' Behrami switches off and Messi bursts into the life. The Barcelona star has been quiet so far, but he has found himself in a dangerous pocket. He runs at the Switzerland defence and slips a pass into the danger area, but Benaglio gets down to collect.

12' However, once again the Argentina free-kick is pumped into the box and Switzerland cope with it easily. They've seen plenty of the ball so far, but they are not doing an awful lot with it.

11' Argentina certainly feel they can get plenty of joy down the left. Di Maria has seen a lot of the ball so far and he wins another free-kick, this time after a tug from Xhaka.

9' Shaqiri wins Switzerland a corner as he is crowded out and then plays the ball off Zabaleta. They are unable to make use of the set-piece, though, as Argentina clear their lines easily.

8' Good move by Switzerland. Inler gets them moving from the middle, producing a clever flick to take him away from Messi and then picking out Shaqiri on the left, who shows quick feet to pick out Mehmedi. The forward then races up the wing and crosses, but Garay slices it away.

6' Di Maria is involved again on the left wing. This time he produces a brilliant first touch to beat Lichtsteiner, giving the full-back no option but to cynically pull him back and concede a foul. Di Maria is outraged at the lack of a yellow card.

5' Sloppy play by Drmic as he gives the ball away to Gago just inside the Argentina half, inviting his opponents forward. Higuain does well to play Di Maria in down the left flank, but Lichtsteiner blocks his cross well.

3' No holding back from Shaqiri there as the Bayern winger goes in hard on Lavezzi, conceding a foul and subsequently causing some pain.

1' Off we go! Argentina get the action started.

There is some good news for the Swiss, though. Schar retains his place in the centre of defence after a decent showing in the final group game against Honduras. The Basel man replaced Senderos for that match after the ex-Arsenal man's disastrous showing against France on matchday two.

Ottmar Hitzfeld finds himself another man down going into today's game. Forward Mario Gavranovic suffered serious knee ligament damage on Saturday, making him a doubt for the rest of 2014. Steve Von Bergen had previously been sent home early after breaking his cheekbone.

Argentina fans pose prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images
Argentina fans pose prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo: Getty Images

Argentina did receive a blow in the build-up to the match as Sergio Aguero was ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a hamstring injury. He will be watching from the bench, but do not expect to see him getting on to the pitch. Lavezzi slots into his place in the triumvirate behind Higuain, alongside Messi and Di Maria.

Alejandro Sabella's Argentina come into this match having cruised through Group F without building up much of a sweat. Although they were unconvincing in all three of their matches, qualification never looked in doubt as they beat Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria all by one goal. Sabella and Argentina fans will likely take confidence in the fact they are yet to find their full stride, with Messi finally proving to be decisive on the world stage for his country.

SQUADS

Switzerland subs: Yann Sommer, Burki, Reto Ziegler, Philippe Senderos, Michael Lang, Tranquillo Barnetta, Haris Seferovic, Valentin Stocker, Blerim Dzemaili, Gelson Fernandes.

Switzerland (4-3-3): Diego Benaglio; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Fabian Schar, Johann Djourou, Ricardo Rodriguez; Gokhan Inler, Granit Xhaka, Valon Behrami; Admir Mehmedi, Josip Drmic, Xherdan Shaqiri.

Argentina subs: Agustin Orion, Mariano Andujar, Hugo Campagnaro, Lucas Biglia, Enzo Perez, Maxi Rodriguez, Augusto Fernandez, Martin Demichelis, Rodrigo Palacio, Ricky Alvarez, Jose Maria Basanta.

Argentina (4-2-3-1): Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Ezequiel Garay, Federico Fernandez, Marcos Rojo; Fernando Gago, Javier Mascherano; Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Lavezzi; Gonzalo Higuain.

Commentary by Goal dot com

Published: 12:00 am Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Last modified: 9:53 pm Wednesday, July 02, 2014

TAGS: Switzerland world cup Brazil Brazil2014 arg Argentia sui Round of 6

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