Argentina left it very late to overcome a valiant defensive effort from Iran on Saturday, scoring the only goal of the 2014 World Cup match in extra time to win 1-0.
Lionel Messi struggled for large portions of the match, but the four-time Ballon d'Or winner came through late with a phenomenal strike from the edge of the box.
The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre had seen this story before:
Argentina started with a very offensive formation, prompting this joke from Football Funnys:
Via Just Football, the Iranians were in awe of the man they'd be facing on the day to the point where their captain asked for Messi's jersey before the match even began:
Messi was kept in check for much of the first half as Iran limited space beautifully, and the Argentine forward came closest to opening the scoring via a free-kick.
Via Squawka, Messi's first-half numbers weren't bad at all although fans seemed to disagree:
TSN's Kristian Jack shared this image, showing just how difficult it was for Messi to leave his mark on this match:
StanJames didn't wish to hear any excuses, however, as he felt Messi was putting in a poor effort:
It was nothing compared to the performance from Gonzalo Higuain. The Napoli forward had a miserable afternoon against Iran, fumbling away the few chances the Argentine team could muster.
Fans were understandably frustrated with the forward, who struggled to do anything right on Saturday:
Talksport's Lee Roden couldn't believe the terrible form Higuain seemed to be in:
Footy Accumulators were very clear in their assessment of his first 45 minutes:
When he stayed on the pitch, they expected he would perhaps do what so many strikers often do:
It never happened, however, and Higuain was substituted after 75 mediocre minutes as Argentina pushed forward for a late winner.
It didn't look like it would happen, with Iran holding down the fort expertly. The 90 minutes of regulation had already passed when Messi did what he always does—make the difference.
Picking up the ball on the right side of the pitch, the pint-sized forward cut inside and curled a beautiful effort into the far corner, winning the match.
BuzzFeed News had the Vine:
Social media immediately exploded with awe, and Roden explained why it's always unwise to judge great players like Messi before the final whistle:
Argentina have looked underwhelming during the 2014 World Cup so far, but thanks to the struggles of some of the other teams in Group F, the Albiceleste are all but guaranteed the top spot heading into the knockout stages.
A date with either Switzerland or Ecuador seems likely, and both teams have already shown issues with their concentration during this tournament. While Iran showed it is possible to contain Argentina's powerful offensive unit, all it takes is one chance for a player like Messi to work his magic.
The Albiceleste will need to improve their level of play if they are to have any chance of winning the 2014 World Cup, but led by the mercurial Messi, they will be dangerous opponents no matter which team they face.
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