Higuain fires Argentina past Belgium

Last updated 07:07 06/07/2014
Tim Krul
Reuters Zoom
Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul makes the winning save in the penalty shootout against Costa Rica.

Related Links

Neymar out of World Cup with back injury Don't blame Messi if Argentina fail - Maradona It's the Mona Messi of World Cup haircuts Belgium hold on for quarterfinal spot Netherlands rescued by late spot kick

Relevant offers

Football

Jamie Maclaren hat-trick guides Perth Glory to victory over Melbourne City Arsenal into FA Cup final after Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici blunder Eden Hazard strike puts Chelsea 10 points clear atop Premier League PSV Eindhoven end long wait for Dutch title Aston Villa fight back to beat Liverpool for place in FA Cup final Lionel Messi hits 400-goal milestone in Barcelona victory Leicester City continue surge, still in Premier League drop zone Western Sydney Wanderers ruin Adelaide United's top-two hopes Melbourne Victory all but seal A-League premiership Auckland City FC beat Amicale in hot-tempered O-League clash

Gonzalo Higuain's superb early strike secured a nervy 1-0 win for Argentina against Belgium and sent the South Americans through to the last four of the World Cup for the first time in 24 years this morning (NZT).

Higuain buried a shot into the corner of the net in the eighth minute at the national stadium to set up a semi-final clash against 2010 runners-up the Netherlands or surprise package Costa Rica, today's other quarterfinal.

The 26-year-old Higuain reacted brilliantly when an Angel Di Maria pass was deflected towards him off Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen. He swivelled and struck the ball first time as Argentina ended a run of being eliminated in the last eight at the two most recent editions of soccer's global showpiece.

''I knew the goal was going to come and it came at an important time,'' Higuain, who had not scored for his nation in six matches, said in a television interview.

''We were able to reach a semi-final which we haven't achieved for many years. Now we need to play well and try and reach the final,'' he added.

''We gave our all, it's a World Cup, it doesn't happen every day. There are two matches left to achieve this beautiful dream.''

Belgium, whose best World Cup run was in 1986 when they were knocked out by Diego Maradona's Argentina in the semi-finals, had a couple of chances but otherwise offered little in attack despite sustained late pressure that set nerves among the thousands of Argentines thronging the giant arena jangling.

Argentina looked the more ambitious in the early stages and Higuain's beautifully executed goal gave them a deserved lead.

They came close to a second in the 28th minute when Lionel Messi, who was a constant threat to the Belgium defence having set the tournament alight in the group stages, threaded a superb ball through for a galloping Di Maria.

However, the winger injured himself when his effort was blocked and was replaced by Enzo Perez a few minutes later.

Belgium were starting to enjoy more possession without really threatening before Messi flashed a free kick narrowly wide five minutes before the break.

With Argentina apparently happy to sit on their lead, Belgium's best effort of the half came in the 42nd minute when Kevin Mirallas sent a diving header wide from Vertonghen's centre.

Higuain was in fine form and raced through the centre 10 minutes into the second half but, with Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois beaten, his shot clipped the top of the crossbar and the ball flew into the crowd.

Marouane Fellaini sent a 61st-minute header just over the bar in another good chance for Belgium and there was some desperate defending from the Argentines in the closing minutes.

But they held on and captain Messi could even afford to squander a late one-on-one with Courtois as his side progressed along with hosts Brazil and Germany, who went through on the other side of the draw.

Ad Feedback

''It's a great joy for this squad, for the technical staff, for the people, for my family. We all crossed the Rubicon!,'' said Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella, adding that it was probably his team's finest performance so far in Brazil.

 

 

- Reuters

Special offers
Opinion poll

Will Burnley retain their EPL status?

Yes, they've found a winning formula

Maybe, but there’s a long way to go

No. They lack quality in certain areas

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content