Argentina slips past Belgium into World Cup semifinals

Published Saturday, July 5, 2014 1:00 PM by Shane Barrow

A large and vocal crowd welcomed Argentina and Belgium to Sao Palo for a mouth-watering World Cup quarterfinal.  Who would book their place one step closer to the coveted World Cup Final?

After four matches of almost invisibility, we finally had a Higuain sighting.  After being the second top scorer in 2010 South Africa, Gonzalo Higuain had been shutout so far in Brazil as he watched Messi and Di Maria zip around the attacking third.

After a Kompany turnover in the midfield Argentina streamed forward.  An errant pass took a deflection and bounded straight to Higuain who was waiting at the top of the eighteen.  Gonzalo turned and volleyed a perfectly placed shot past Courtois and into the left corner of the net. So after taking two hours to break through against Nigeria, it took Argentina less than seven minutes against Belgium.  Plenty of time to recover for the Europeans, but I must say it was nice seeing their pissant coach Marc Wilmots squirm on the sideline.

After he goal the biggest event the next thirty minutes was the injury of Angel Di Maria who had to be taken off with a leg problem.  A huge loss for the Argentina attack.

In the 39th minute Lionel Messi weaved through the Belgium defense before earning a free kick right at the top of the penalty area yielding a very dangerous restart. Messi wound up and zipped it just over the crossbar.  Opportunity lost.

A diving header from Kevin Miralles narrowly missed just wide and the match went to the break with Argentina holding a deserved lead.

Ten minutes not the second half Higuain almost doubled the lead as he raced in on goal after putting the ball through Kompany's legs.  Gonzalo ripped a shot from the 18 that Courtois could only watch as it flew over his head and deflected off the crossbar.  Argentina won't miss Di Maria the rest of the match if Higuain keeps performing.

Mark Wilmots countered with a double substitution of Romelu Lukaku and Mertens.  Belgium were starting to push as Fellaini headed high on a quality Vertonghen cross, but tt was getting late.  Every goal Belgium has scored so far in this World Cup has come in the 75th or later.  Could they work their magic once again?  They resorted to lumping high balls looking for the head of Fellaini.

Argentina were having none of it though as they were looking very organized defensively while Messi and the midfield were doing a wonderful job of keeping the ball.  They looked to have put the match away late into stoppage time as Lionel Messi raced away.  Courtois was up to the challenge though as he stopped the Messi shot.  

Belgium had a couple of half-chances at the death, but Argentina had their first semifinal World Cup appearance in 24 years!  Argentina now await the winner of the Netherlands v Costa Rica match in the next round, while Belgium head home with some well earned experience that will serve them well at Russia 2018.