2014 FIFA World Cup: Argentina vs Belgium - As it happened...
Zee Media Bureau/Dattaraj Thaly
Argentina beat Belgium 1-0 courtesy a 8th minute goal from Gonzalo Higuain. The Napoli man scored his first goal of the tournament to send Argentina to the semi-final for the first time in 24 years. Belgium had their chances but they never really threatened Romero's goal.
FULL TIME: Argentina 1-0 Belgium
90+5'- BELGIUM ALMOST SCORE!
A lovely crisp ball way played into Lukaku who turned and raced to the byline. He cut the ball back into a dangerous area. Garay managed to clear it but the ball falls on the bounce to Witsel outside the box. The midfielder strikes a volley but the ball goes over the crossbar.
90+3'- MESSI....COURTOIS SAVES 1-1
Argentina bring the ball out from the back. Palacio threads the ball to Messi who runs at the goal with just the keeper to beat. Coutois races out of his goal and denies Messi who tries to chip him. What a save from the Chelsea man.
90+1'- Belgium on the attack. De Bruyne's cross from the right is headed away from danger by Zabaleta. Belgium come again.
90'- 5 MINUTES ADDED ON!
Belgium have five minutes to frag the South Americans into extra time.
87'- Belgium have a corner. De Bruyne's delivery is not convincingly cleared by Argentina. It bounces dangerously close to the goal between several players before Romero collects it.
85'- Five minutes plus injury-time left for Argentina to book their place into the semi-final.
84'- De Bruyne's love drive takes a wicked deflection and almost goes inside Romero's goal. The keeper had gone the other way expecting the shot.
83' - Lovely ball comes in from the right flank, Palacio tries his level best to head it. Unfortunately, he can't reach it despite being unmarked and in front of goal. The commentator informs us that he is only 5 ft 7 inches.
82'- The golden generation of Belgian football need to find a goal from somewhere to force this into extra-time.
80'- The goalscorer Higuain is replaced by Gago. A massive round of applause for the Napoli striker. He finally found form today after a poor tournament.
77'- Fair play to Belgium for keeping the score to 1-0 despite Hazard's shocker. They are still in with a chance especially from set-pieces.
75'- Lukaku fires in a shot from the edge of the box. The ball deflects of a defender and falls kindly for Chadli who is in a scoring position but the ref's assistant raises the offside flag.
74'- Finally Wilmots takes is star player off. Hazard has been ineffective today, almost invisible. He comes off for Chadli.
72'- Lukaku has managed to create some problems for the Argentina defense. Even Fellaini is now playing in an advanced position, just behind Lukaku.
69'- Messi has the ball on the left, Alderweireld and Witsel try to dispossess him, but the Argentine is manages to keep the ball stuck to his boots. They are joined by Fellaini who still can't take the ball off Messi but he nudges it out for a throw-in.
68'- Palacio is having a discussion with Sabella on the touchline. Looks like another substitution for Argentina.
67'- It has been 24 years since Argentina last made it to the semi-final of a FIFA World Cup. Could today be their day?
65'- Garay almost scored an own goal as De Bruyne fired in a low cross from the right flank. The defender stuck out the leg close to the near post and directed the ball towards his own goal. Luckily for him, Romero had his angles right and got down low to collect ball.
62'- Higuain shields the ball using his body. A frustrated Alderweireld bring him down as he wasn't able to get a touch of the ball.
60'- Veronghen got in a wonderful cross from the left which was met by Fellaini with a towering header. His effort rockets over the crossbar. He should have hit the target from that distance.
59'- Double substitution by Mark Wilmots for Belgium. Lukaku and Merterns on for Origi and Mirallas.
58'- Kompany gets in a timely tackle to prevent Lavezzi's shot. He also gets a bit of the Argentine's leg and the PSG man goes down and gets medical attention.
55'- HIGUAINNNNN.....HITS THE CROSSBAR
Higuain with a 60-yard lung bursting run, nutmegs Komany and fires a shot from outside the box. He beats Courtois but the crossbar denies him. What a effort. Surely a contender for goal of the tournament if it had gone in.
54'- The resulting corner is straight into the hands of Courtois again.
53'- Messi's free-kick delivery is curled in, but Courtois palms it over for a corner.
52' -Hazard is yellow carded for a careless foul. He also concedes a free-kick in a dangerous area. Messi could fire in a good delivery from here.
50'- Higuain retrieves the ball from going out of play and charges inside the box. He takes a shot that goes off Buyten for a corner.
48'- Most of the 50-50 balls are being won by Argentina. Belgium need to step up their play.
46'- Here we go as the second half is underway..
HALF TIME: Argentina 1-0 Belgium
45'- 2 MINUTES ADDED ON!
43'- Belgium have looked good in patches so far. Their final ball has let them down. Hazard has been kept very quiet and has not been able to run at defenders.
41'- MIRALLAS....JUST MISSES!
Vertonghen put in a peach of a ball with his left foot. The ball came in from the Belgium's left and Mirallas met it with a header. He was unmarked but could not twist his neck enough to direct the ball into the goal. His effort goes inches wide off the upright.
39'- Messi takes the free-kick from the edge of the box. But he can't get it to bend quickly enough, which was important as there was not much distance between the free-kick position and the goal. The ball goes over the crossbar.
38'- Messi weaves his magic on the edge of the box. Fellaini and van Buyten can't take the ball of him and ultimately foul him. Great position for a free-kick, which Messi will take.
35'- Ice being applied to the right knee of Di Maria. He walked off the pitch and there was no stretcher. Maybe Sabella does not want to risk him ahead of a semi-final.
32'- Di Maria seems to have picked up an injury. There was no challenge on him. But he seems to have pulled a muscle. Sabella takes him off. Perez makes his way out to replace him. Di Maria looks gutted.
30'- Cross comes in from the left. But Kompany is there again to head away the danger. Higuain was lurking behind him and had Kompany not cleared, the Napoli striker would have had his second.
27'- Messi finds Di Maria with a glorious ball from Argentina's half. He pierces the defense and had Di Maria one on one with Kompany. The Madrid winger cuts inside and fires his shot but Kompany stuck to him and got in the block.
25'- Witsel, usually sits back but he fires a shot from outside the box on the occasion. Romero blocked it and the rebound almost fell to Origi but the forward could not get to the ball.
24'- Messi races forward with the ball on the right for Argentina. He is double teamed by Witsel and Mirallas and they take the ball off him. Messi goes to the ground and wants the free-kick.
22'- After a lovely move that started with Messi, Di Maria tries a deft back flick to put Higuain through on goal. The idea was good, but he could not execute it. Courtois collects the ball as Higuain raced to chase it.
18'- Mascherano vs Witsel looks like an interesting battle. The two have been involved in quite a few tussles already. This could boil over as the game goes on.
16'- Vertonghen skips past Di Maria on the left and puts in a dangerous looking ball. Garay meets it with a solid header but he concedes a corner.
14'- Corner to Belgium. De Bryune takes it and nothing meaningful comes of it as his delivery is hit long and goes straight out for a throw-in.
12'- Kevin De Bruyne receives a lovely ball from Hazard. He takes a touch, moves it to his left foot and tries his luck with a long range effort. The ball sails into the crowd.
10'- Despite starting the match well, Belgium have allowed Argentina to slowly get their footing into this match.
8'- That's only the third time Courtois has been beaten in this tournament. It was Higuain's 22nd international goal for Argentina.
6'- GOAL! HIGUAIN
The move started when Kompany came forward with the ball and gave it away to Mascherano who quickly passed it to Messi. The Barca star twisted and turned 180 degrees to leave Fellaini behind and find Di Maria on the right. The wingers ball struck a defender and lobbed kindly to Higuain who hit it on the volley on the the first touch. That's his first goal of this tournament.
5'- Di Maria has the ball, he shimmies and moves forward again to fire in his shoot. A flying tackle comes into to block his shot.
3'- Messi has the ball for the first time and threads through a ball on the left for Di Maria who is in acres of space and cuts back a low cross. The ball is cleared by Buyten before Higuan can tap it in.
2'- Mascherano tried to apply pressure on Witsel. The duo indulge in a physical battle for the ball. Witsel muscles him off the ball and wins the foul.
1'- The Belgians get us started. Here we go...
Time for the national anthems of both countries. The atmosphere inside the stadium is electric. Argentina fans have taken over the place. It's a sea of blue and white.
Players have made their way out to the middle. Both captains to read out the FIFA ant-discrimination message.
Team line-ups for this match:
Argentina: Romero, Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Basanta, Biglia, Mascherano, Di Maria, Lavezzi, Messi, Higuain
Belgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen, Witsel, Fellaini, De Bruyne, Mirallas, Hazard, Origi
Welcome to our live coverage of the third quarterfinal between Argentina and Belgium.
Both teams have fared identically in the tournament so far as they have carved out hard fought wins and not really dominated the opposition.
Belgium and Argentina have scored majority of their goals late on in the second half of games. Both teams have not hit top form and have grinder out results.
Argentina will miss left back Rojo through suspension, while Aguero will return to the starting line up after missing the last game. Higuain`s form is a big worry for Argentina as that puts added pressure on Messi and Di Maria, who have delivered so far.
Belgium will most likely start with Lukaku instead of Origi after his game changing performance against USA. Vermaelen is expected to partner Kompany at the back after missing the last game.
Belgium head coach Wilmots has said he expects more from Hazard in this match. He is spot on. For Belgium to give Argentina a run for their money, the Chelsea man will have to play a blinder.