1 vs. 0
FULL TIME: Argentina 1-0 Iran
You have to feel sorry for Iran. They have put so much effort into this game and deserved to take a point. In the end the quality of Argentina and in particular Messi has proved the difference.
And that's why he's the best. When his team needed him most he pops up with a sensational goal.
GOOOOOOOOOAL! Argentina 1 (91 mins - Lionel Messi) Iran 0. He's done it! What a goal! WIth time running out Messi has just wrapped his foot round a shot from the edge of the box and found the bottom corner!
Argentina Substitution
Argentina Goal

Left Footed - Bottom Left

Four minutes of stoppage time to be played.
Argentina come forward once again. Iran are camped deep inside their own half. But the South Americans are finding it difficult to break them down, and time is running out.... fast!
This Iranian team has put so much effort into this game. They haven't stopped running and have kept their defensive discipline all the way through the game. They deserve to take a point from this.
Iran Substitution
That would have been incredible! In the end Ghoochanneljhad just didn't have the legs to go all the way. Zabaleta put just enough pressure on him to force his shot straight at the keeper.
Another chance for Iran! They come forward on the counter attack from an Argentine corner, playing the ball in behind the defence for Ghoochanneljhad, but the Charlton striker sees his shot from 18 yards saved by Romero!
Another cross gets flung into the Iran box, with Palacio at the back post this time. He tries to find the near post, which takes the keeper by surprise, but after adjusting his feet Haghighi makes the stop.
Iran Substitution
Argentina come forward once again, with Rojo in an unfamiliar position on the right side. But when he cuts inside onto his left foot he slices his effort wide of the target.
The ball is swung into the back post area, where Fernandez is. But the defender, who is playing almost as a makeshift striker can't find the target and has to knock it back across goal. Iran clear.
Lavezzi rides a couple of tackles inside the box but is then challenged by Pooladi, who puts the ball behind for a corner kick, which eventually comes to nothing. Iran's defence continues to hold firm.
You get the feeling that Iran, having given it a go at the start of the second half, are quite content with a point here and are packing the backline. Argentina just can't break them down!
Sabella finally makes a change, throwing on two strikers - Palacio and Lavezzi. It is pretty much a like-for-like swap, but Argentina will be hoping those two can bring them the cutting edge they've been lacking.
Argentina sub: Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain OFF, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Rodrigo Palacio ON.
Iran sub: Masoud Shojaei OFF, Khosro Heydari ON
Iran Substitution
Argentina Substitution
Argentina Substitution
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PIC: Iran's striker Reza Ghoochannejhad reacts after almost giving his side a shock lead. #WC2014 http://t.co/NJNS8epvBH

Messi lines up a freekick on the edge of the box, and while the shape on his effort is good it lands in the side netting. Half the fans inside this stadium thought that was in! It wasn't far away.
YELLOW CARD: Masoud Shojael (Iran)
Dejagah's corner kick causes yet more more problems in the six yard box, but this time a foul is awarded to Argentine after Garay is pushed to the ground. But set pieces are where Iran look most dangerous.
Sabella has had every single one of his players warming up on the touchline, but he's yet to make a single change! He needs to give his side a cutting edge in the final third. They look toothless.
Iran Yellow card



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WOW! Just inches away from magic. What a finger-tip save! #IRNvsARG http://t.co/DL1IILhlM6

Di Maria gets to the byline and puts in a cross to the near post, but as has been the case all the way through the game there's an Iran player there to clear, with Hosseini getting his head on it.
Argentina are on the ropes at the moment! Iran are giving it everything they've got, and have had the better chances in this second half. Sabella must be absolutely fuming with the way his team is playing!
Romero saves Argentina's blushes! The cross comes into the box from the right side, looking for the run of Dejagah. The Fulham man is quicker than his marker Zabaleta, and powers a header towards goal. But Romero tips the effort over the bar. Wow!
Now Pooladi whips a really dangerous ball into the box from his position on the left wing, and Garay gets his angles all wrong, slicing his cleareance well over the bar. Argentina look nervous.
The subsequent corner kick causes mayhem in the Argentine box, with the ball bouncing around inside the sx yard box. Nobody in a red shirt can reach it in time and the danger is cleared. If only someone had been on hand for Iran.
Hajsafi lines up a shot from about 20 yards out, but Zabaleta comes out from the Argentina backline to make the block, with the effort flashing past the post. Romero wasn't sure about that.
Rojo has been the only player to have done himself any credit for Argentina so far in this game. He's been a constant outlet on the left side for the South Americans, and his delivery has been good too.
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Iran have never kept a clean sheet in the World Cup finals in any of their 9 matches. Is today the day? #IRN http://t.co/Vht0NCzMJ1

The Argentine fans inside the stadium in Belo Horizonte are all on their feet, chanting and waving their flags in an effort to try and lift their team. They need the support, because they're struggling right now.
That's the danger I was talking about. Iran were caught up the pitch, which created space in front of their defence for Messi to run into. That was a warning for Iran and Queiroz.
Just wide from Messi! Mascherano feeds Messi, who turns and drives into the space left between the midfield and attack. He gets to the edge of the box but curls his shot just past the post.
The problem for Iran is that if they attack more often in this second half there's a better chance that Argentina could break through their defence on the counter attack. That's the risk.
Iran are starting to enjoy themselves, and are venturing forward a bit more. They've had two really good chances in the last 10 minutes. Argentina are a bit shaken at the moment. They need to regroup.

#IRN should definitely have had a penalty. Zabaleta makes no contact with the ball. Dejagah right to be furious #ARG

The Iranian players are still protesting to the referee about that decision not to award a penalty for the tackle on Dejagah. Replays show that it was a blatant foul in the box. He was cleaned out.
Big shout for an Iran penalty! Dejagah chases down a long ball forward, and gets there before Zabaleta in the box. The Man City full-back looks to take him out with a wild swing, but the referee says no spot kick!
YELLOW CARD: Javad Nekounam (Iran)
Iran Yellow card



WHAT A CHANCE! Montarezi drives down the right side from his position at full-back and drives a pinpoint cross into the box for Ghoochanneljhad. The Charlton striker gets his head to it and draws a diving save from Romero!
Rojo fizzes a wicked cross into the box, sitting up in front of goal, but Aguero can't stretch his neck far enough and the ball flashes across the face of goal. Any contact, and that was a goal.
Messi drives at the Iran backline, with no less than four opposition players around him. He plays the ball out to Zabaleta on the right, but the Man City fullback puts his shot high and wide after cutting inside. Should have done better.
And normal servive has resumed after half-time, with Argentina dominating possession and Iran packing the backline. They've been very disciplined so far. How long can they keep this up for?

Quieroz would be an absolute genius if he could get a point here. Incredible problems he faced with Iranian FA pre-WC. Severe lack of funds

It's worth remembering that Argentina were a different team in the second half of their opening game against Bosnia. But this is a different kind of test. Iran will sit deep for all 90 minutes of this game, unlike Bosnia who wanted to attack.
Sabella has kept the same team on the pitch for the second half. I thought he might have thrown on Lavezzi or Palacio at half time, but he's stuck with his starting lineup and looks to have stuck with the 4-3-3.
HALF TIME: Argentina 0 Iran 0
The calls for Palacio have already started from the crowd. This has been a very strange performance by Argentina, who for all their attacking talent have struggled to create anything of note.
The second half has started in Belo Horizonte!
What did you make of the first half? Does Sabella need to change his strategy? If so, does he bring someone on? Palacio? Let me know your thoughts. Tweet me!

The latest from Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven). I write about football/soccer/fußball/fútbol (delete as appropriate). Pronounce my name however you want

An extremely frustrating half for Argentina. They've undoubtedly been the better side, completely dominating possession, but what have they done with it? Not much, while Iran have had a few chances of their own!
Two minutes of stoppage time to be played.
Iran are just starting to show a bit more attacking intent in the last few minutes, but Argentina still can't get at them on the counter attack. Their passes just aren't crisp enough.
Higuain fires in a shot from a tight angle, but Haghighi gets everything behind the effort to make a comfortable save. That's what Argentina are being reduced to. They're really struggling to create.
Good chance for Iran! Dejagah's delivery is once again fantastic, this time finding Hosseini at the near post. But the defender plants his header just over the bar. His heads immediately go to his head, because he knows that was an opportunity.
Dejagah puts another dangerous freekick into the box looking for Ghoochanneljhad at the back post, but an Argentine defender gets there before him and puts it behind for a corner kick.
Di Maria is trying his best to pick a pass through a packed Iran defence, but every time he does so he sees no movement in front of him and a tackle comes in to knock him off the ball.
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Iran's Dejagah has won three tackles so far, two of which coming against Lionel Messi. Fulham's finest prevails. #IRN http://t.co/Bl4ZoyFDaM

Almost 40 minutes in, Argentina have had 81% of the ball but have only had one shot on target. Nullification at its finest. Iran are doing a good job of keeping their strikers quiet.
That's twice now that Argentina have scored Iran problems from set pieces, which will be a concern to Queiroz, because that's supposed to his side's strength. Not on this showing, it's not.
Great chance! Messi clips a freekick from the left side into the box, where Garay gets up early to meet it. But the Benfica defender puts his header over the bar from close range! Should have scored.
Chance for Iran! A quick freekick puts Hajsafi through in behind the Argentine defence, but his square pass into the box is cut out by Gago, who clears at the second attempt. Argentina were asleep there!
Messi lines up the freekick, but he fires it over the bar. There was too much height on it, and never really threatened the Iran goal with that effort. It was too close, and too central for him.
Higuain and Messi combine well on the edge of the box, where Teymourian makes a clumsy tackle to bring down the Barcelona man. This is a dangerous position. Expect Messi to take it.
Just the first signs of frustration starting to show for Argentina. This time Rojo's cross goes well behind for a goal kick. Their final product needs to be better. 30 minutes gone, still 0-0.
Messi is being given a free role in this team. He has been given the freedom to do what he wants, anywhere on the pitch. Remember, Sabella changed his tactics after Messi criticised his opening game strategy. He gets what he wants.
Iran look quite content sititing back behind the ball, inviting pressure on top of themselves. Argentina aren't making the most of the possession they are being given. Need more cutting edge.

#ARG has completed 45 passes in the attacking third. #IRN has completed 24 TOTAL passes. #ARGvsIRN

Aguero releases Di Maria through on goal this time, but the Real Madrid winger takes a poor touch and allows Montarezi to come across and make the challenge. In the end his shot is blocked.
There are just a few cracks starting to appear in the Iran backline. Argentina are beginning to impose themselves on the contest, and are looking more dangerous in the final third.
Closest so far! Di Maria whips an out-swinger into the six yard box, where a mob is waiting for the ball to arrive. But after rising highest Rojo plants his header just past the post. Not much in it.
Good strike by Aguero! Higuain and the Man City striker link up well in the box, with Aguero curling an effort towards goal. But Haghighi does well to palm it away from danger on the stretch.
Although Argentina have Iran pegged back in their own half (almost in their own box) their defence is actually holding up so far. Argentina are struggling to get in behind them. Patience is needed.
Di Maria lines up a shot from the edge of the box, but he fails to wrap his feet round it and the ball flies well over the bar. He's still finding his range.
Argentina come flying forward on the counter attack, taking advantage of a poor Iran corner kick. But when the ball is passed to Higuain, the Napoli striker takes a poor touch, allowing Montazeri to make the tackle.

Argentine fans almost exclusively taunting Brazilians with their chants so far.

Messi is stretching the play on the right hand side, almost as something of a winger over the past few minutes or so. It means that Pooladi, who would normally play quite narrowly, is having to follow him.
The camera pans to Maradona watching the game in the crowd. The Argentine fans are making a right racket! Along with Chile, Brazil and Colombia, they have been the loudest supporters at this World Cup.
After making the save Haghighi is down and in a lot of pain. Queiroz is using the opportunity to relay messages to his players, with plenty of water being taken on board as well.
Good save! Gago picks out Higuain, who is making a run behind the Iran defence, with a great pass from deep on the right side. But Haghighi comes off his line quickly to smother the shot.
I may have spoken too soon. Argentina are right on top of Iran now. Queiroz's side can't get out their own half. Sorry Iran. You can blame me.
Flurry of activity from Argentina. First Messi jinks through the tackles of a few players, before finally taking on one two many. Then Di Maria also tries to burst through the defence, but Iran holds firm.
Iran have made a decent start to this game. They're packing the midfield and forcing the ball out wide. Messi is already starting to come very deep to receive the ball, having seen little of it up front.

Iran blocking the centre of the pitch well. Encouraging Argentina passes out to the full-backs

Iran's players were asked by their football association not to swap shirts with the Nigerian players following their opening game. Money is in short supply, apparently. Good luck trying to stop these players fighting for Messi's shirt at full time.
And now Argentina surge up the other end of the pitch, with Aguero evading the tackles of a few opponents in the box, before having a shot deflected wide. But the flag is up on the near side for offside.
First chance of the game falls to Iran! Dejagah swings a freekick into the box from the left side, with Hosseini getting his head on the delivery. But it flashes past the far post, with Ghoochanneljhad stretching. He can't make contact though.

Iran have had more of the ball in the first two minutes than I expected from the half

Mascherano is picking up his 100th cap for Argentina tonight, making him only the fourth player to do so. Can you name the other three?
Shojael crashes into the back of Di Maria, and the Real Madrid attacker crumples to the ground holding his ankle. That was a poor challenge. Only escapes a booking because it's so early in the game.
So how will Iran fare against the might of Argentina? They were quite pleased with a point against Nigeria in their opening game. That gives you an idea of the task they face tonight.
We're under way here in Belo Horizonte! It's Argentina v Iran.
The teams are out on the pitch for the first battle of the match: the anthems. With no Brazil, Italy or France playing today, Argentina stand a real chance of winning the anthems battle here.
Pre-match odds: Argentina 1/7, Draw 15/2, Iran 22/1
I'm Graham Ruthven and you can contact me on Twitter ahead of the game. Let me know your thoughts! Is Messi going to be the player of the tournament? Do Iran stand any chance of staging an upset? Tweet me!

The latest from Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven). I write about football/soccer/fußball/fútbol (delete as appropriate). Pronounce my name however you want

Iran's preparations have been hindered by sanctions imposed against the country and economic hardship. Carlos Quieroz has complained about the fact his side didn't play any high-profile warm-up friendlies in the run-up to the tournament.
Iran have been based at a hotel at Sao Paulo airport to avoid wasting money on unnecessary travel expenses. Meanwhile, England hired out a fortress for a fortnight. Most expension holiday ever.
TEAM NEWS: Iran XI - Haghighi, Haji Safi, Hosseini, Sadeghi, Nekounam, Shojaei, Timotian, Montarezi, Ghoochannejad, Dejagah, Pooldai.
TEAM NEWS: Argentina XI - Romero, Zabaleta, Garay, Fernandez, Rojo, Gago, Mascherano, Di Maria, Messi, Aguero, Higuain.
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Argentina fans are expecting an easy game here. These two caballeros predicted a Messi hat-trick. http://t.co/MtLcQJIsFw

After the game Sabella said: "I was not hurt by Leo's comment and he has said that before. He likes to play 4-3-3 with Di Maria up front. Sometimes players learn from the coaches and sometimes we learn from them. We can all make mistakes you know. Tomorrow we will start with a 4-3-3 formation and we will take it from there."
Messi was criticial of coach Alejandro Sabella's decision to play five defenders against Bosnia. It was only at half-time when Sabella decided to switch to a 4-3-3 formation, embracing his side's attackin threat.
Argentina won their opening Group F game against Bosnia-Herzegovina, with Lionel Messi scoring one of the goals of the tournament. And Iran drew their opening game against Nigeria, in what was the worst game of the tournament so far.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the World Cup game between Argentina and Iran in Belo Horizonte. A win puts Argentina into the next round.

Starting Line-ups

    • 1
    • 16
    • 23
    • 17
      Federico Fernández
    • 23
    • 14
    • 17
      Di María
    • 5
    • 10
    • 21
    • 9
Team Manager:  Gerardo Martino
    • 16
    • 7
    • 3
      Haji Safi
    • 21
    • 14
    • 6
    • 22
    • 4
    • 5
    • 23
    • 1
      Alireza Haghighi
Team Manager:  Carlos Queiroz
Goalkeepers G SAV GC GK FC FS Y R PEN Mins
S. RomeroDFP
0 3 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 90
Federico FernándezDFP
0 0 1 0 5 0 1 2 0 0 0 90
P. ZabaletaDFP
0 0 1 2 2 0 3 0 0 0 0 90
E. GarayDFP
0 0 3 1 7 0 0 2 0 0 0 90
M. RojoDFP
0 0 3 3 3 0 1 2 0 0 0 90
Midfielders G GA SHO PAS FK COR FC FS Y R PEN Mins
J. MascheranoDFP
0 0 0 100 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 90
L. MessiDFP
1 0 4 42 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 90
F. GagoDFP
0 0 0 106 0 1 2 3 0 0 0 90
Á. Di MaríaDFP
0 0 2 45 0 6 0 2 0 0 0 89
G. HiguaínDFP
0 0 1 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 77
S. AgüeroDFP
0 0 2 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 77
Goalkeepers G SAV GC GK FC FS Y R PEN Mins
Alireza HaghighiDFP
0 3 1 23 0 0 0 0 0 90
A. SadeghiDFP
0 0 0 2 8 0 1 0 0 0 0 90
M. PooladiDFP
0 0 0 4 5 0 0 1 0 0 0 90
S. HosseiniDFP
0 0 2 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 90
P. MontazeriDFP
0 0 0 1 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 90
Midfielders G GA SHO PAS FK COR FC FS Y R PEN Mins
A. TeymourianDFP
0 0 0 16 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 90
J. NekounamDFP
0 0 0 22 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 90
E. Haji SafiDFP
0 0 1 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 88
A. DejagahDFP
0 0 1 13 0 6 1 2 0 0 0 85
M. ShojaeiDFP
0 0 0 18 0 0 4 0 1 0 0 77
0 0 2 14 0 0 4 2 0 0 0 90
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