Argentina 0-0 Switzerland (Argentina 1-0 AET): Late Di Maria strike seals win

Real Madrid winger Angel Di Maria stole the tie late on with an 118th minute extra time winner to make it 1-0 and send a heartbroken Switzerland side home

The penultimate last 16 tie was one in which all the action came in extra time.

Although the first half ended 0-0 it brought with it it’s chances, chances in which Switzerland mainly dominated. They had two main ones in the half;

The first big chance came after 25 minutes, Xherdan Shaqiri cut the ball back from the byline and Granit Xhaka drilled it low and hard towards goal forcing a good save out of Sergio Romero. The rebound of his save fell to Stephan Lichtsteiner outside the box whose effort was also saved.

Switzerland’s next big chance happened five minutes before half time, Shaqiri provided the pass again which split through the defence and let in Josip Drmic. Romero showed deep hesitation in whether to come out or not and ended up staying, Drmic just had to apply the finish but could only chip into the goalkeeper’s hands. It was a very poor finish.

For all of Argentina’s attacking prowess in Lionel Messi, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Angel Di Maria, they just couldn’t force their way through the Swiss defence.

In the second half Argentina started to show a lot more attacking intent, and went really close when Higuain’s header forced a great save from Diego Benaglio. However they still found no success.

The longer the game went on, the more and more Switzerland frustrated Argentina, every time Messi got on the ball he barely had a touch before two or three Swiss players came hounding down on him.

Higuain had another chance to score a headed goal but could only skim it wide. Messi also threatened late on weaving his way through three players, but his shot was expertly saved by Benaglio.

Argentina kept pushing but Switzerland held out comfortably and for the fourth time in seven knockout ties this World Cup, it went to extra-time.

The first half of extra time gave very little, as both sides stepped back out onto the pitch nervously. In the second half however, Argentina stepped up their attacking notch and Di Maria twice went close, the first produced yet another stunning save from Benaglio.

However the man who had given the ball away 37 times in 90 minutes was rewarded with his constant persistence. In the 118th minute Messi skipped past three defenders and set the ball through to Di Maria on the right, he ran into the box, opened his body and steered the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal. Utter heartbreak for Switzerland.

Only moments later Switzerland nearly equalised when Blerim D┼żemaili headed against the post with the re-bound hitting his shin and going out of play.

As Switzerland got desperate they started committing players forward and goalkeeper Benalgio nearly got caught out as Di Maria’s halfway shot went agonisingly wide. In the very last minute of the game Switzerland had a freekick right on the edge of Argentina’s box. Shaqiri stepped up but could only hit the wall, and with that, the ref blew the final whistle.

Switzerland will be absolutely gutted, they were only two minutes away from penalties where it was anyones game. Argentina progress and will face either USA or Belgium in the Semi’s.

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