With time running out the Barcelona star picked up the ball on the edge of the box and found the bottom corner with a curling shot, clinching the points and a sport in the last 16 for Alejandro Sabella’s men.
Iran were making it very difficult for Argentina to break them down, but were wasteful with what few chances were afforded to them, with Ezequiel Garay heading over the bar from close range.
Carlos Queiroz’s side could have taken the lead themselves just before the break, but Mohammed Hosseini couldn’t get over Ashkan Dejagah’s corner kick delivery, planting his header just over.
Iran showed more attacking intent in the second half, and drew a good save from Romero, following Reza Ghoochanneljhad’s diving header from a Hussein-Ali Montarezi cross into the box.
The referee then turned down a strong claim for an Iranian penalty, with Dejagah cleaned out in the 18 yard box by Pablo Zabaleta, but despite feverish protests, play was allowed to continue.
Iran looked to have held on for a point, but Messi scored a sensational winner to give Argentina a 1-0 win in stoppage time.
14’ HIGUAIN CHANCE – Good save! Gago picks out Higuain, who is making a run behind the Iran defence, with a great pass from deep on the right side. But Haghighi comes off his line quickly to smother the shot.
35’ GARAY MISS – Great chance! Messi clips a freekick from the left side into the box, where Garay gets up early to meet it. But the Benfica defender puts his header over the bar from close range! Should have scored.
42’ IRAN HEADER – Good chance for Iran! Dejagah's delivery is once again fantastic, this time finding Hosseini at the near post. But the defender plants his header just over the bar. His heads immediately go to his head, because he knows that was an opportunity.
51’ MESSI SHOT – Messi drives at the Iran backline, with no less than four opposition players around him. He plays the ball out to Zabaleta on the right, but the Man City fullback puts his shot high and wide after cutting inside. Should have done better.
53’ IRAN CHANCE – WHAT A CHANCE! Montarezi drives down the right side from his position at fullback and drives a pinpoint cross into the box for Ghoochanneljhad. The Charlton striker gets his head to it and draws a diving save from Romero!
55’ PENALTY? - Big shout for an Iran penalty! Dejagah chases down a long ball forward, and gets there before Zabaleta in the box. The Man City fullback looks to take him out with a wild swing, but the referee says no spot kick!
60’ JUST WIDE – Just wide from Messi! Mascherano feeds Messi, who turns and drives into the space left between the midfield and attack. He gets to the edge of the box but curls his shot just past the post.
69’ SAVE – Romero saves Argentina's blushes! The cross comes into the box from the right side, looking for the run of Dejagah. The Fulham man is quicker than his marker Zabaleta, and powers a header towards goal. But Romero tips the effort over the bar. Wow!
86’ COUNTER ATTACK – Another chance for Iran! They come forward on the counter attack from an Argentine corner, playing the ball in behind the defence for Ghoochanneljhad, but the Charlton striker sees his shot from 18 yards saved by Romero!
90+1’ WINNER – He's done it! What a goal! WIth time running out Messi has just wrapped his foot round a shot from the edge of the box and found the bottom corner!
Argentina have won 11 and lost just one of their last 14 World Cup group games (D2), scoring 27 and conceding just five in total in this run.
Iran have won only one of their 11 games at the World Cup (D3 L7). Indeed, Iran have gone six World Cup matches without a win, losing four and drawing two.
11 of the last 12 goals Iran have conceded at the World Cup have come in the second half.
Lionel Messi has scored eight goals in his last seven appearances for Argentina.
Messi has now scored 40 goals for his country.
Lionel Messi has scored two goals in two games at the 2014 World Cup, that’s already more than in his eight matches at the World Cups 2006 and 2010 combined (1).
It’s the third World Cup in a row that Argentina have won their opening two games of the tournament.
Seven of Argentina’s last 10 goals at the World Cup have arrived in the second half (70%).
Iran attempted just 130 passes against Argentina; the fewest made by a team in a World Cup match since 1966.
Iran are the first team to concede World Cup goals to both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Is Lionel Messi dragging Argentina through the World Cup? The Barcelona man has largely been a nonentity in Argentina’s opening two group games, but nonetheless he has scored two game winners with breathtaking aplomb. When Argentina have been below-par Messi has dragged them through.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ashkan Dejagah - The Fulham star didn’t see all that much of the ball but what he did see he made the very most of. His delivery from set pieces was wicked all the way through the game, and he provided a constant outlet on the counter attack. Even his effort and defensive stubbornness was impressive.
Argentina – Romero 7, Rojo 7, Garay 5, Fernandez 5, Zabaleta 4, Mascherano 5, Gago 5, Di Maria 6, Messi 8, Aguero 6, Higuain 4. Subs – Palacio 5, Lavezzi 5, Biglia 4.
Iran – Haghighi 7, Pooladi 7, Sadeqi 6, Hosseini 7, Montazeri 7, Teymourian 5, Nekounam 5, Dejagah 9, Hajsafi 6, Shojael 7, Ghoochanneljhad 8. Subs: Hajsafi 5, Jahanbakhsh 4, Heydari 6.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Lionel Messi
- Ashkan Dejagah
- Pablo Zabaleta