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FIFA World Cup: Lionel Messi Assists Angel Di Maria as Argentina Beat Switzerland

Argentina are through to the next round, but it took some doing, as the score was level until extra time. However, a typically brilliant run from Messi resulted in Di Maria scoring the winner

Julian Finney

All group winners are through to the next round, but most of them had to work hard for it. Argentina were not any exception, beating Switzerland 1-0 with an extra time goal from Angel Di Maria.

Ezequiel Lavezzi came on for the injured Sergio Aguero in the starting lineup, but otherwise Argentina were unchanged. Lavezzi was not any more efficient than Aguero, however, though at least he helped out defensively.

Early on, Argentina had more chances on goal, but Switzerland maybe came closer. Notably, Josip Drmic had a chance to put Switzerland on top, but put through one-on-one, his attempted chimp went tamely into the hands of Romero.

Gonzalo Higuain again provided very little, and it's worrying that one of their best players during qualifying is sleepwalking through the tournament.

Marcos Rojo put in a good shift at left-back again, though he picked up a yellow card, which rules him out for the next match. Jose Maria Basanta did a decent job today and should start in the quarterfinal.

It was all about Lionel Messi again for Argentina, as he nearly single-handedly kept the team ticking. Tasked with both creating chances and recovering the ball, he simply wasn't close enough to goal, though he came quite close to scoring with a wicked volley.

The Swiss keeper, Diego Benaglio, had an inspired day and kept the scores level. But as the game wore on, gradually Argentina took control.

Di Maria had a very uneven game - on the one hand, he never stopped running and tried to force the issue, eventually scoring the winner... on the other, his imprecise decision-making resulted in giveaway after giveaway.

The Real Madrid player took 12 shots, but only 3 were on target. He attempted 19 crosses, but only 4 were accurate. With a 63% pass accuracy, he was second-worst on the team behind Romero, the keeper.

Argentina were so reliant on Messi that he actually led the team in successful tackles and dribbles. This could only work if Higuain, Lavezzi, and Di Maria were creating or finishing chances, and by and large, they really weren't.

Still, despite not convincing, Di Maria persevered. His boundless stamina was a great virtue and, with both teams tired, he took the spotlight.

But it was Messi, who dribbled into the defense and found Di Maria for the score, who ran the show.

Argentina aren't dominating, but few teams are. There's no reason to think they can't win it, but they probably will need to improve. Next up, Belgium.

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