Late Di Maria goal saves Argentina from shoot-out

July 1, 2014 at 8:56 pm
Posted under: 2014 FIFA World Cup, Argentina, Argentina News, News, Switzerland, Switzerland News

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JULY 01: Angel di Maria of Argentina celebrates scoring his team's first goal in extra time 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 by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JULY 01: Angel di Maria of Argentina celebrates scoring his team's first goal in extra time 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 by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Arena de Sao Paulo was host to the Round of 16 game between Argentina and Switzerland. The Argentines left it till the last minute, after a late goal by Angel Di Maria minutes before the penalty shoot-out to win the game 1-0.

The stadium was filled mostly by Argentine support, dressed in the traditional sky-blue colours of the South American country, at a sunny Sao Paulo. The game got off to a moderate pace with both sides trying to find their pace.

Ezequiel Lavezzi started the game, as a replacement for Sergio Aguero due to an injury that has ruled him out for the remainder of the tournament.

The PSG forward showed why he was called up to replace Aguero; he was a menace to Swiss left-back Ricardo Rodriguez who found it difficult to match the forward’s combination of pace and strength.

The Swiss defence was compact, not allowing Argentina any space around the 18 yard box. Lionel Messi and teammate Di Maria became frustrated as they could not penetrate the Swiss centre defence. Striker Gonzalo Higuain had very few chances to score as crosses and balls fed by the midfield could not reach him.

Granit Xhaka missed Switzerland’s first clear chance to score but his shot at goal seemed like a back pass, which didn’t threaten the goalkeeper. Another chance fell for the Swiss but forward Josip Drmic shunned simplicity, by attempting a stunning chip over the goalkeeper who was far away from his line, but the ball went wide.

The second stanza was similar to the previous but the tempo gradually increased as the game went on. Higuain nearly found the opener with a header, but his attempt was easily saved by the European goalkeeper.

The Swiss could not fully contain Messsi throughout the whole game, and he had better presence in the game. He ran at the defence, distributing short passes to his teammates but the Switzerland defence remained stubborn.

The game went on till extra time. Switzerland grew in confidence as the game neared the penalty shoot-out. They caught the Argentines on counter-attacks, while maintaining their compactness at the back.

Switzerland were seemingly playing for penalties, sitting back and waiting for the South Americans to attack. A bad mistake by a Swiss player in the second half of extra time, found Messi who ran at the defenders and laid the ball in Di Maria’s path, for him to score the winner just over 10 minutes before the game ended.

Di Maria’s goal sends Argentina into the next round, to meet either the USA or Belgium next week in the Quarter-finals.

Bonginkosi Tiwane


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