July 02, 2014 07:45
Argentina has reached the World Cup football quarterfinals in Brazil with a 1-0 extra time victory over Switzerland in São Paulo.
After a scoreless battle through regulation time and nearly all of extra time, Argentina finally broke through in the 118th minute.
Star striker Lionel Messi, who had scored four of his team's six goals in this World Cup, set up the winner with a pass to right of the box to Angel di Maria, who blasted it into the left corner of the net.
Switzerland had a free kick from the top of the box in the dying moments, but it was blocked by the Argentine wall.
The final second round game is later Tuesday (4 pm EDT) in Salvador between the United States and Belgium, which won all of its group matches but did not score in any of those contests until the final 20 minutes. Last year in a friendly match played in Cleveland, Ohio, the visiting Belgians scored three second-half goals to defeat the U.S., 4-2.
The Americans could get a boost for this match from star forward Jozy Altidore, who was injured in the team's opening win but was medically cleared to play Tuesday. However, U.S. team coach Jurgen Klinsmann did not have Altidore in the starting lineup.
He did say Monday he was not happy that football's governing body, FIFA, assigned an Algerian referee to officiate the important match.
Klinsmann said the referee would able to speak French with the Belgian players on the field and that he's from a country that was in the same first round group as Belgium. Plus, Klinsmann pointed out that it was Algeria that the U.S. knocked out of the last World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
On Monday, France and Germany earned their spots in the quarterfinals. France shut out Nigeria, 2-0, with two late goals, and Germany defeated Algeria in extra time, 2-1, after the two failed to score in regulation.
All but one of the quarterfinal matchups are now set. On Friday, France takes on Germany in Rio de Janeiro and Colombia faces host Brazil in Fortaleza. On Saturday, surprising Costa Rica plays the Netherlands, the 2010 runner-up, in Salvador, and in Brasilia, Argentina will go against the winner of the U.S.-Belgium game.
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