Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

World Cup: Lionel Messi magic denies Iran a share of the spoils

By Paul Gittings, CNN
June 22, 2014 -- Updated 0005 GMT (0805 HKT)
Nigeria midfielder Ogenyi Onazi, left, and forward Peter Odemwingie celebrate their win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in a World Cup match at Pantanal Arena in Cuiaba, Brazil, on Saturday, June 21. Nigeria won 1-0 and Bosnia was eliminated. Nigeria midfielder Ogenyi Onazi, left, and forward Peter Odemwingie celebrate their win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in a World Cup match at Pantanal Arena in Cuiaba, Brazil, on Saturday, June 21. Nigeria won 1-0 and Bosnia was eliminated.
HIDE CAPTION
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
World Cup: The best photos from June 21
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Argentina beats Iran 1-0 for second win in Group F
  • Lionel Messi goal in injury time secures victory
  • Iran has strong penalty claim rejected in second half
  • Nigeria beats Bosnia Herzegovina 1-0 in later Group F game

Editor's note: How are you celebrating the World Cup? Join the global conversation on CNN Facebook Pulse

(CNN) -- Lionel Messi waited until injury time to break Iranian hearts Saturday and give Argentina a scarcely deserved 1-0 victory in Belo Horizonte in a Group F clash.

Iran had come close to pulling off a major upset with a series of second half chances until Messi found space just outside the penalty area to fire home an unstoppable shot.

It was his eighth goal in his last seven appearances for Argentina and could not have been more timely, a second win securing his side a last 16 place with a group match to spare.

Messi had also scored what turned out to be the crucial second goal in Argentina's 2-1 win over World Cup debutant Bosnia Herzegovina to open its Brazil 2014 campaign.

Read: Five-star France thrashes Switzerland

Before his superb strike, the four-time FIFA World Player of the Year had been kept largely quiet by the dogged defense of the Iran, who had drawn with Nigeria in its opener.

Argentina dominated possession in the first half, but Iran's Jalal Hosseini had perhaps the best chance -- however the defender headed over the bar from a corner.

Iran took the upper hand after the break, with Reza Ghoochannejad heading straight at goalkeeper Sergio Romero in the 53rd minute when he should have scored.

Ashkan Dejagah then appeared to have won a penalty soon after when he was brought down in the area by Pablo Zabaleta, but Serbian referee Milorad Mazic waved play on.

Read: Costa Rica stuns Italy, sends England home

Dejagah was denied a goal in the 67th minute when the forward beat Zabaleta to a cross, but saw his header tipped over the bar by Romero.

Reza also had a great opportunity to secure a famous victory with five minutes remaining, but it was Romero again to the rescue for Argentina with another fine save.

"They made the game very difficult for us," admitted Argentine coach Alejandro Sabella after his side's last-gasp victory.

"Messi was marked very tightly, but he showed perseverance, patience, attitude and always looked for the goal. He never gave up."

Sabella's Iranian counterpart Carlos Queiroz also praised Messi, but was unimpressed by the referee's performance in denying his side a second half penalty.

"Messi was fantastic, but the referee wasn't," said the former Real Madrid coach.

"I don't understand it, he had to have seen it was a penalty. He was five meters away, there is no way he couldn't have seen it."

Nigeria 1-0 Bosnia

Later Saturday, Nigeria consolidated second spot in Group F behind Argentina with a 1-0 win in Cuiaba over Bosnia, who are eliminated.

Peter Odemwingie's 29th minute goal secured victory for the Super Eagles, who drew with Iran in the opening round of matches.

Bosnia was left to curse its luck, with Edin Dzeko having a goal mistakenly ruled out for offside in the first half, while in stoppage time the Manchester City striker saw his effort strike the post.

But Nigeria also carried an attacking threat and Emmanuel Emenike might have added a second only to see his late effort go just wide of the post.

It was Nigeria's first win at a World Cup since 1998 and they will face Argentina in the final group games Thursday.

Read: Argentina and Iran -- a time to remember?

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Keep track of the social buzz at Brazil 2014 with CNN's Facebook Pulse -- find out who the world is talking about.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 1049 GMT (1849 HKT)
It needed 120 minutes to separate the best two teams on the planet, but Mario Gotze's sublime strike gives Germany a fourth World Cup title.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT)
After 64 games, some huge shocks and 171 goals scored, now it's time to play fantasy football -- who would you pick in a World Cup dream team?
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 1055 GMT (1855 HKT)
Germany won the World Cup, but these stats suggest that the host nation came top of the table at Brazil 2014 -- despite a crushing semifinal defeat.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
Bare bellies, an on-pitch streaker, world leaders and superstar selfies -- the World Cup final had it all.
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 1132 GMT (1932 HKT)
Having crushed home hopes of success, Germany prevents Brazil's worst nightmare by beating the World Cup host's South American rival in final.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
One of the joys of watching the World Cup is seeing relative unknowns come to the fore. Here are 11 players to watch at Russia 2018.
July 14, 2014 -- Updated 0937 GMT (1737 HKT)
Stay informed with results of the latest World Cup matches and the full schedule for the month-long tournament in Brazil.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
In the sight of Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer, the man who would be king awaits his destiny.
July 12, 2014 -- Updated 1715 GMT (0115 HKT)
Germany's semifinal demolition of World Cup host Brazil in Belo Horizonte is the game that seemingly everyone can't stop talking about.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
One of the joys of the World Cup is seeing relative unknowns come to the fore. Here are 11 players who have made their mark at Brazil 2014:
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
You thought Brazil's home humiliation was bad? Check out the greatest shocks in World Cup history...
ADVERTISEMENT