Lionel Messi did what a superstar should, but he left it until the 91st minute to score a stunning goal to give Argentina a 1-0 win over Iran in Belo Horizonte on Sunday morning.
Argentina was expected to win comfortably against the World Cup minnows, but Iran – who stifled Nigeria in a 0-0 stalemate in the team’s opening game – was never overawed in the Group F clash.
In the first half the Iranian defence closed down any attacks by Argentina, allowing their opponents no space.
As the second half wore on, the Iranians became more confident, although Argentina star Lionel Messi went close with a driven shot from distance after a great run.
The Iranians had a penalty shout turned down for a tackle by Pablo Zabaleta on Ashkan Dejagah, and then Argentinian keeper Sergio Romero made one of the saves of the tournament to tip a Dejagah header over the bar.
Messi hit the side netting with a free kick and then Angel Di Maria had a straight shot on goal from the left with 16 minutes left, but Iranian keeper Alireza Haghighi held onto the ball.
The Argentinians kept attacking, and Haghighi made a save from a Rodrigo Palacio header but they could not find the telling finish to get the win.
Reza Ghoochanneijhad had a late chance for a winner for Iran, but his shot on the break was palmed away by Romero.
Finally, in the first minute of added time, Messi got the ball 25 yards out and curled a beautiful left-foot shot past Haghighi to relieve the tension for the Argentinians.
The result puts Argentina – who beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-1 in the opening match – on six points, enough to progress to the round of 16.
Iran is left on one point. Bosnia-Herzegovina (zero points) plays Nigeria (one point) later on Sunday.
More to follow.