WC 2014: Argentina scrape through against Iran in a Messi affair

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Belo Horizonte (Brazil), Jun 21: Lionel Messi's magical left-foot produced another inspirational goal as Argentina managed 1-0 win over gritty Iran in a group F game of the World Cup here today. With some of the most dogged defending that has been witnessed in this edition, Iranians nearly pulled off a memorable draw before the 'Albiceleste' skipper produced a precision left-footer that curled past goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi, who had been brilliant under the bar.

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With six points from two games, Argentina are well on course for a berth in the Round of 16 although their dependance on Messi and failure of the other forwards is becoming increasingly evident. Iran predictably employed the ultra-defensive tactic by keeping atleast seven players in their own defensive third which frustrated the Argentine forwards Gonazalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero even though the South American side enjoyed 75 percent of the ball possession.

Iran put up a gutsy show and even came close to scoring a couple of times

Messi operating from the attacking hole was always under double covering which kept him quiet save a few dead ball situations. His curling direct free-kick in the 32nd minute went over the horizontal. The first time that Messi really could threaten was at the stroke of an hour when he sprinted down the middle and his left-footed placement using the instep was atleast a foot away from the near post.

He took a number of corner kicks and free-kicks but much to the dismay of the partisan fans failed to get the winner. Whenever Messi had the ball in possession, there was a trail of red-shirts following him. Defensive midfielder Andranik Timotian should be credited for keeping Messi quiet playing the role of a spoiler in the middle third.

With Diego Maradona watching from the stands, the 'Alibiceleste' couldn't effectively decode the chink in the Iran defence in the first 45 minutes.

PTI

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