Argentina needed a very late goal from Angel di Maria deep in extra time to record a 1-0 win over Switzerland in the 2014 World Cup round of 16 on Tuesday.
It took 118 minutes, but eventually Lionel Messi found Di Maria in some open space, and the Real Madrid winger didn't miss, as shared by Football Tweets:
Amazing Messi - Di Maria ! Enjoy it. http://t.co/cz4O7CjzjH— Football Tweets (@FutballTweets) July 1, 2014
Di Maria had looked like one of the worst players on the pitch for the bulk of the match. Per Gary Lineker, The wide player was particularly wasteful on the ball:
In the first 70 minutes, Di Maria has lost possession 28 times. That has to be some sort of record.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) July 1, 2014
He looked completely lost at times, and when he fired this rabona into Row Z, his teammates were visibly frustrated, via Bleacher Report UK:
Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com did like the player's movement, however, and he couldn't believe fans got to see yet another last-minute win during this World Cup:
Wow. What a World Cup. Di Maria had seemed their most active, driven player. Messi does what Messi does. Another late moment to settle it— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) July 1, 2014
ESPN FC's Richard Jolly was unimpressed with Di Maria, but scoring a decisive goal after playing a poor match is what great players do:
After 19 crosses, 11 shots and a bizarrely awful performance, Di Maria scores.— Richard Jolly (@RichJolly) July 1, 2014
Of course, it's worth pointing out the goal was really made by Messi's great run and his beautiful feed to his teammate. The Daily Mirror's Oliver Holt made sure everyone knew:
Terrific break and perfectly weighted pass by Messi to set up that goal. Performing like superstar he is at this World Cup, when it matters— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) July 1, 2014
GeniusFootball predicted this would happen, but then again, it wasn't exactly a leap of faith:
We all know what will happen in the end #Messi— GeniusFootball (@GeniusFootball) July 1, 2014
Switzerland did an excellent job shutting down Messi for 118 minutes, building their defensive formation around limiting space for the attacker to run into. With Messi struggling, his teammates failed to step up.
Frank McAvennie thought the Albiceleste looked positively average with their best player being shut down like that:
It's hard to tell who the favourite's are, when Messi is not playing well Argentina are average#upsetmaybe— Frank McAvennie (@MaccaFrank) July 1, 2014
Piers Morgan was still in awe of what Messi can do with the ball at his feet:
InsideLaLiga's Jen Evelyn agreed Argentina looked particularly reliant on the greatness of Messi, and Sergio Aguero's absence didn't help:
Been a while since I saw a side's attack so heavily rely on one player as this ARG relies on Messi. Higuain, Lavezzi, Gago - just poor.— Jen Evelyn (@JenFCB) July 1, 2014
CSN's Ray Ratto was more impressed with the Swiss formation:
Switzerland's Get-In-Messi's-Way-2-3-1 formation holding firm.— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) July 1, 2014
The Swiss did everything they could to limit Messi's impact on the match, but once again, the Argentine forward found a way to lead his team to a win. Jen Evelyn attributed the goal to him as well:
Finally, just as I say Messi looks injured, hr takes a sprint through the middle, sets up Di Maria for a goal.— Jen Evelyn (@JenFCB) July 1, 2014
The Independent's Sam Wallace couldn't help but notice Messi's lack of emotion when the ball finally hit the back of the net, noting his mental approach to the game and his incredible focus:
Even on occasions like these it's notable that Messi keeps his emotions pretty locked-down. It's all part of the package. He's unflappable— Sam Wallace (@SamWallaceIndy) July 1, 2014
Argentina came very close to exiting the 2014 World Cup prematurely, and the Swiss team even hit the post after Di Maria had opened the scoring. A date with the winner of the match between the USA and Belgium is next for the team, who still haven't looked like the offensive juggernaut people were expecting.
Messi has been great, but his supporting cast has underwhelmed so far, and one has to wonder what would happen if the Albiceleste ran into a team with the offensive tools to take advantage of Argentina's shaky back four.
The team's World Cup bid is still alive, for now, but improvements will have to be swift if Messi and company are serious about lifting the World Cup trophy at the end of the tournament.