Lionel Messi sets up Angel Di Maria for late extra-time winner against Switzerland

Brooks Peck
Dirty Tackle

For 118 minutes, Argentina and Switzerland played a round of 16 match that can only be described as a black hole of nothingness. Both teams played as if scoring goals was a long forgotten concept from a now mythical civilization. But late in extra time, with a shootout appearing to be inevitable, Lionel Messi finally decided enough was enough and evaded a couple of defenders to set up Angel Di Maria for the biggest goal of his international career.

Once it was proven that things could actually happen, Switzerland also decided to try their hand at it with a desperate search for an equalizer in the final minutes. A header hit Argentina's post and the rebound went just wide soon. It was the good fortune that Argentina needed to hold the lead until the final whistle and reach the quarterfinals, where they will face the winner of the U.S.-Belgium match.

After scoring in each of Argentina's group-stage matches, Messi again proved influential in his team's victory, but this match showed that he doesn't always have to put the ball in the net himself for Argentina to succeed. Though he was given a fourth straight Man of the Match award for his performance.

Still, this was far from an encouraging performance for La Albiceleste. The combination of a limp attack and unreliable defense is not something that can survive all the way to a World Cup final. But with this knockout stage exposing the shortcomings of many top teams, perhaps Argentina can correct these problems before it's too late.


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