A moment of brilliance late in the game from Lionel Messi finally saw off Iran in this engrossing Group F World Cup clash.
Argentina's 1-0 win was narrow to say the least. Despite them enjoying the majority of pressure, Iran enjoyed the best of the chances with Reza Ghoochannejhad and Ashkan Dejagah going close.
Messi then came in off the right flank to curl one past the excellent Alireza Haghighi in second-half stoppage time. Iran are left to rue what might have been a famous point.
|Player||Half-Time Ratings||Full-Time Ratings|
|Angel Di Maria||5||5|
Argentina Half-Time Analysis
Sergio Romero: Barely called into action.
Pablo Zabaleta: Looking to get forward whenever he can.
Ezequiel Garay: Quiet afternoon so far, has been busiest at set-plays on both ends.
Federico Fernandez: Same as Garay, has been all about defending and attacking at free-kicks.
Marcos Rojo: Arguably Argentina's best attacking threat, his runs from left-back have caused Iran some of their biggest problems in open play.
Fernando Gago: Passing the ball well, but not having much joy against Iran's two banks of defence.
Javier Mascherano: Has not had much to deal with but has been a dependable presence when Iran have tried to break.
Angel Di Maria: Occasionally incisive but mostly quiet.
Lionel Messi: Lively throughout, his jinking runs have caused Iran problems but have largely been dealt with.
Sergio Aguero: Threatening in and around the box when the ball has actually found its way to him.
Gonzalo Higuain: Had a great chance early in the half but is finding things difficult against a suffocating Iran defence.
Argentina Full-Time Analysis
Sergio Romero: Saved his team with a number of great saves.
Pablo Zabaleta: Lucky not to be penalised for bringing Dejagah down in the box.
Ezequiel Garay: Did not look comfortable as Iran upped the pressure after the interval.
Federico Fernandez: Had to defend as frantically as his centre-back partner.
Marcos Rojo: Slightly quieter than in the first-half, but still responsible for some of Argentina's best work going forward.
Fernando Gago: Used the ball nicely, but not especially effectively.
Javier Mascherano: Struggled at times, as Iran took the game to Argentina and overran them.
Angel Di Maria: Had his moments but was disappointingly quiet.
Lionel Messi: Was trying to make things happen but not having much joy for most of the game. In keeping with his status as arguably the world's best player, he grabbed his moment when it came.
Sergio Aguero: Marked out of the game by the Iran backline.
Gonzalo Higuain: Dangerous by nature of his position, Iran's defence did not have too much to worry about, though.
Rodrigo Palacio: The striker had a couple of half-chances.
Ezequiel Lavezzi: His running served to tire already exhausted Iranian legs.
Lucas Biglia: Not on long enough to make a contribution.
|Player||Half-Time Ratings||Full-Time Ratings|
|Alireza Jahan Bakhsh||N/A||5|
Iran Half-Time Analysis:
Alireza Haghighi: Largely untested, he was alert off his line to stop Higuain through on goal.
Pejman Montazeri: Having a tough time with Argentina's numbers down his side, but holding on well so far.
Syed Hosseini: Headed just over from a corner with Iran's best chance. Defensively, his commitment embodies the admirable organisation of his team.
Amir Hossein Sadeghi: Disciplined so far against the top-notch opposition he has been charged with defending.
Mehrdad Pooladi: Playing his part in keeping Iran's shape, he has struggled when isolated.
Javad Nekounam: Working hard to stay disciplined in the face of Argentina's attempts to find a way through.
Masoud Shojaei: A tough afternoon's work trying to keep up with his opponents, but he is doing it so far.
Andranik Teymourian: As with his fellow midfielders, he has been solid so far, but has had trouble getting forward.
Ehsan Hajsafi: His attempts to break forward have been quickly snuffed out.
Ashkan Dejagah: Valiantly trying to lead his team forward, his invention at set-pieces has been their biggest threat so far.
Reza Ghoochannejhad: A passenger. Iran have not got forward enough to utilise him.
Iran Full-Time Analysis:
Alireza Haghighi: Called upon more in the second-half, he responded each time up until Messi's brilliance beat him.
Pejman Montazeri: A better second-half saw him take control of his flank.
Syed Hosseini: Excellent again in central defence, got rid of just about everything that came his way.
Amir Hossein Sadeghi: Solid and continuously alert like his defensive partner.
Mehrdad Pooladi: Iran's downfall came through way of his area. A harsh ending after his efforts.
Javad Nekounam: Did a good shift in front of his defence until Iran were finally caught out.
Masoud Shojaei: Decent, if unspectacular, work in midfield.
Andranik Teymourian: Worked so hard throughout against Argentina's creative stars.
Ehsan Hajsafi: More involved in the second-half and Iran were better for it.
Ashkan Dejagah: Took on the responsibility to lead his team forward. Should have got a penalty and might have scored too.
Reza Ghoochannejhad: Stepped up a gear in the second-half and caused Argentina all sorts of problems.
Khosro Heydari: Barely involved after his arrival.
Alireza Jahan Bakhsh: Did not see enough of the ball to make an impression.
Reza Haghighi: Same as above.