Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 22nd 2014 Contents BELO HORIZONTE---The way
Iran was defending, it was
always going to take a little
magic from Lionel Messi to
send Argentina into the second
round of the World Cup.
Until stoppage time yesterday,
Messi had been stifled by Iran s
solid back line. Then, out of
nowhere, the Argentina captain
produced something very spe-
cial, as he has done so many
times for Barcelona, by scoring
a stunning goal for a 1--0 vic-
Goalkeeper Sergio Romero,
who watched the goal from the
other end of the pitch, said Messi
"rubbed his magic lamp and we
Messi was more pragmatic.
"When I saw that I had scored
I was very happy, because we
were in added time already and
wanted to qualify for the next
phase," he said.
Argentina coach Alejandro
Sabella watched as Iran tightly
marked his star player, but said
he always had faith that Messi
might deliver when it counted.
"Messi continued on through-
out the match," Sabella said. "He
had perseverance, patience, atti-
tude. He always had an eye for
goal in his own way."
It was Messi s third World
Cup goal since 2006. The fixture
was also significant for him
because it was his 88th Argenti-
na appearance, surpassing Diego
Maradona s 87.
However, the Group F match
had nearly been a disaster for
Argentina. Besides defending,
Iran also took the match to
Argentina in the second half,
creating several chances to win
it and cause a tournament sen-
Iran was punished, however,
for those missed chances. Messi,
getting a rare touch, quickly
moved the ball toward his dan-
gerous left foot and fired a curl-
ing shot from 20 yards (metres)
just beyond the reach of the div-
ing goalkeeper and into the left
corner of the net.
The goal showed why Messi
has been voted world player of
the year no fewer than four
Up until that point, he had
been kept quiet by Iran s stoic
defending, while Argentina had
at times been exposed to coun-
Iran had several chances to
win it, especially in the second
half. The best of those oppor-
tunities came in the 67th
minute, when midfielder Ashkan
Dejagah s powerful header from
close range was tipped just over
the bar by Argentina goalkeeper
"We know that it would be
a difficult, tense match,"
Romero said. "Thank God I
could get my hand on the ball
and it didn t go in."
Earlier, lone striker Reza
Ghoochannejhad s header from
close range was saved by Romero
after a cross from the right. He
also missed a chance for a late
winner when his shot was again
saved by Romero.
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz said
two people made the difference
in the match: Messi and referee
Milorad Mazic. Queiroz said the
referee should have pointed to
the penalty spot when Argentina
right back Pablo Zabaleta mist-
imed his challenge on Dejagah
in the second half.
"I hope they don t punish me,
but I m telling the truth: It was
a penalty," Queiroz said, stressing
that Mazic had a clear view.
"The referee played a role in this
"Messi was great, he scored
the winning goal. The referee,
I m sorry to say, was not."
Before the match, Iran faced
criticism for its defensive tactics
after a dour 0--0 draw against
Nigeria. But before Messi s
strike, Iranian and Brazilian fans
were singing "Ole, ole, ole, ole,
Iran Iran!" in recognition of the
team s attempts to score a win-
But Messi denied Iran what
would have ranked as its greatest
result by drawing with the for-
mer world champions.
Despite the defeat, Iran can
still hope to qualify for the sec-
ond round. Nigeria plays Bosnia-
Herzegovina, which lost its
opener 2--1 to Argentina, later
The victory sent the pro-
Argentina crowd into raptures
and most of them stayed in the
stands at Mineirao Stadium in
Belo Horizonte well after the
match. They chanted and waved
scarves and flags, and cheered
highlights---including Messi s
goal---shown on the big screens.
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt June 22, 2014
Argentina 1 (Lionel Messi 90+1) vs Iran 0
Nigeria 1 vs Bosnia 0
Germany 2 (Mario Gotze 51, Miroslav Klose 71)
vs Ghana 2 Andre Ayew 54, Asamoah Gyan 63)
USA vs Portugal, Manaus, 6 p.m.
Portugal have only won one of their last eight
games at the World Cup (7--0 vs North Korea in
2010), drawing three and losing four.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored two goals from a
total of 55 shots at the World Cup.
The USA have only kept two clean sheets in their
last 24 games at the World Cup but have scored
in their last seven.
There were two own goals during the USA's 3--2
win against Portugal at the 2002 World Cup---it
had never happened before or since in the
Belgium vs Russia, Rio de Janeiro, noon
Romelu Lukaku scored a brace in the sides' last
encounter, a 2--0 friendly win for Belgium in
Voronezh in November 2010.
Lukaku failed to register a single touch in the
opposition area in his 58-minute appearance
Thibaut Courtois is yet to lose a match with the
Belgium national team (P18 W12 D6).
The last eight goals that Russia have scored in
World Cup finals matches have come after half-
Korea vs Algeria, Porto Alegre, 3 pm
Sofiane Feghouli's goal from the penalty spot
against Belgium was the only shot that Algeria
managed to hit on target in their opening game.
South Korea have won just one of their last six
World Cup group stage games (W1 D3 L2).
Algeria have scored just two goals in their last 11
hours and 25 minutes of World Cup football.
Cameroon vs Brazil, Brasilia, 4 pm
Croatia vs Mexico, Recife, 4 pm
Australia vs Spain, Curitiba, noon
Netherlands vs Chile, Sao Paulo, noon
FORTALEZA---Ghana held Ger-
many to a 2--2 draw yesterday
despite veteran striker Miroslav
Klose coming on as a substitute to
tie the World Cup scoring record
with the equaliser in their highly
entertaining Group G match.
Klose now has 15 career World
Cup goals, equalling the mark set
by former Brazil star Ronaldo.
Klose scored the equaliser in the
71st minute, less than two minutes
after coming on, when a corner by
Toni Kroos was flicked to the far
post by Benedikt Hoewedes and the
striker slid in to knock the ball into
the roof of the net.
The result means the United
States would advance from the group
if it beats Portugal on Sunday.
Mario Goetze had put Germany
ahead in the 51st, but Ghana
equalised three minutes later
through Andre Ayew.
Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan
then put the Africans ahead in the
63rd, only to see Klose cancel out
The 36-year-old Klose is in his
fourth World Cup and had been
level with former Germany striker
Gerd Mueller on 14 goals. Ronaldo
also scored his 15th against Ghana,
in 2006 in Germany.
With coach Joachim Loew pre-
ferring to play with a "false nine"
system without a striker, Klose sat
out Germany s opening 4--0 rout
But with Ghana threatening to
put a damper on Germany s hope
of winning the group, Loew turned
to his veteran, who provided again.
The draw continued Germany s
habit of struggling in second match-
es in a tournament and left it with
four points from two matches. The
result revived Ghana s hopes of pro-
gressing after its opening 2--1 loss
to the United States. Ghana has one
Ghana gave the favoured Germans
a real contest in a pulsating match
in the sweltering heat and humidity
of Arena Castelao. But it was Ger-
many that took the lead.
In the 51st, Thomas Mueller sent
a dipping cross toward Goetze, who
attempted a header but the ball
bounced off his left knee into the
Germany s lead lasted only three
Andre Ayew rose between Per
Mertesacker and Shkodran Mustafi
to head the equaliser inside the far
post from a cross from Harrison
With the non-German side of
crowd loudly behind the Ghana
team, the African side kept putting
pressure on the favoured Germans.
Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan beat
an offside trap by Mats Hummels
and Per Mertesacker in the 63rd,
ran into space and fired the ball past
goalkeeper Manuel Neuer into the
far corner to raise Ghana s hopes of
In between the first two goals, a
fan ran onto the pitch waving his
shirt. He did not threaten any play-
ers but shook hands with Ghana s
Sully Muntari, who escorted him
off the field before he was picked
up by a security official. Ushers then
moved to block stairwells leading
to the pitch.
Brave Ghana holds Germany
Messi puts Argentina
into second round
Iran's head coach Carlos
Queiroz questions a call
during the group F World
Cup soccer match between
Argentina and Iran at the
Mineirao Stadium in Belo
Horizonte, Brazil, yesterday.
Argentina defeated Iran
1--0. AP PHOTO
WORLD CUP GLANCE
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