By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A moment of magic from Lionel Messi helped Argentina to a 1-0 win over Iran at the Mineirão Stadium this afternoon (June 21st). The goal, scored in the 91st minute, means Argentina are through to the knock-out phase of the FIFA World Cup after two victories on the trot.
In truth, it had been a drab 90 minutes from Argentina. Matched by Iran across the park, the underdogs even had the chance to snatch victory in the second half as Argentina surged forward in ever greater numbers, leaving wide open spaces across the midfield.
Yet not for nothing is Lionel Messi a four-time World Player of the Year. Not for nothing is he the first player in history to win that accolade on so many occasions. With the game seemingly headed for a dire goalless draw, Messi popped up on the right flank, just as he had done against Bosnia at the Maracanã last Sunday, then moved the ball onto his left foot, his favored foot.
He shimmied inside a defender and found the room to shoot. With only a split second before being close down, he curled a shot round a prospective marker and into the far corner of the net. Cue pandemonium in the Mineirão stands. Argentina had been made to suffer, but they had their goal, and, more importantly, the three points to help them progress in the tournament.
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