Story of the match:

  • Iran have strong penalty claim rejected
  • Ashkan Dejagah's header saved
  • Lionel Messi scores 91st-minute winner
  • Argentina qualify for the last 16

Lionel Messi curled a stunning 91st-minute winner to send Argentina through to the World Cup knockout stage and rob the excellent Iran of a deserved point.

Iran spent much of the first half under pressure but more than once threatened to inflict what would have been a huge upset.

Argentina's Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi scores stunning goal in stoppage time

Argentina's celebrations at the final whistle were wild and prolonged, while the sight of coach Alejandro Sabella embracing Messi at the tunnel gave an indication of what this meant to the two-time champions.

The build-up was dominated by talk of a rift between Messi and Sabella, the captain having expressed his displeasure at the 5-3-2 formation used in the first half against Bosnia-Hercegovina when Messi also scored the decisive goal.

Sabella duly reverted to the Barcelona forward's preferred 4-3-3 and was rewarded by his star man at the last.

Key facts

Argentina have won 11 and lost just one of their past 14 World Cup group games, scoring 27 goals and conceding just five in total in this run.

Iran attempted just 130 passes against Argentina, the fewest made by a team in a World Cup match since 1966.

Lionel Messi has now scored 40 goals for Argentina.

Iran looked devastated at the end but must take immense confidence from a performance that combined defensive resilience with attacking adventure - and from the knowledge they could still qualify.

Carlos Queiroz's men actually created the first meaningful chance when Jala Hosseini headed wide from Ashkan Dejagah's free-kick, although Argentina then assumed control.

Javier Mascherano and Fernando Gago provided a solid base for Angel Di Maria and full-backs Pablo Zabaleta and Marcos Rojo to support Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero.

Iran goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi displayed superb reflexes to foil Higuain and save one-handed from Aguero. Rojo then headed narrowly wide, Messi was off target with a free-kick and Ezequiel Garay nodded inches over the bar. The Iran fans celebrated every reprieve like a goal.

Analysis

"Lionel Messi is the difference in so many games and he's done it again. You know what he's going to do, take a step and curl it, but there's nothing the magnificent Iranians can do. It is just world class."

Argentina were meeting a wall of resistance every time they attacked but Iran's impressive defending ought to have been no surprise - they kept more clean sheets in qualifying than any team at the tournament. And when not thwarting the South Americans' forwards, Queiroz's team again came close to a goal of their own with another Hosseini header.

Iran's preparations for the competition had been hampered by political sanctions that affected their funding and ability to organise friendlies, but they looked fully prepared and again came close to taking a shock lead through Reza Ghoochannejhad.

Masoud Shojaei surged forward and fed Pejman Montazeri to cross for the Charlton Athletic striker, who would have scored had his header been aimed anywhere other than straight at Argentine keeper Sergio Romero.

But the chance served to further bolster Iran's self-belief and after Dejagah had a strong penalty claim rejected by referee Milorad Mazic, the Fulham man was thwarted by Romero's fingertips as he met another Montazeri cross with a powerful header.

Messi worked hard to swing the momentum back in Argentina's favour, slotting wide after a quick break and sending a free-kick into the side-netting, while Sabella introduced Rodrigo Palacio and Ezequiel Lavezzi in place of Aguero and Higuain as his side pushed hard for a winner.

Still chances came for Iran, however, Ghoochannejhad nearly stealing the win, only for Romero to make a diving stop - and that miss proved costly when captain Messi stepped up with a wonderful finish into the far corner to send Argentina through with a game to spare and keep them on course for a first World Cup since 1986.

Iran's Reza Ghoochannejhad reacts after a missed chance against Argentina

Iran had chances to take a surprise lead against Argentina, with Reza Ghoochannejhad denied by a save from Sergio Romero

Argentina fans pray

Argentina fans were seen praying as the clock ticked down with the game still goalless

Argentina forward Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi has scored eight goals in his last seven appearances for Argentina

Argentina forward Lionel Messi celebrates scoring against Iran

Argentina only had one more shot on target than Iran

Iran defender Pejman Montazeri reacts at the final whistle after his team's 1-0 defeat to Argentina

It was all too much for Iran defender Pejman Montazeri, whose reaction at the end told a story

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (6)

Argentina

  • 01 Romero
  • 04 Zabaleta
  • 16 Rojo
  • 14 Mascherano
  • 17 Fernández
  • 02 Garay
  • 05 Gago
  • 10 Messi
  • 20 Agüero (Lavezzi - 77' )
  • 09 Higuaín (Palacio - 77' )
  • 07 Di María (Biglia - 94' )

Substitutes

  • 03 Campagnaro
  • 06 Biglia
  • 08 Pérez
  • 11 Rodríguez
  • 12 Orión
  • 13 Fernández
  • 15 Demichelis
  • 18 Palacio
  • 19 Álvarez
  • 21 Andujar
  • 22 Lavezzi
  • 23 Basanta

Iran

  • 12 Haghighi
  • 15 Montazeri
  • 23 Pooladi
  • 06 Nekounam Booked
  • 04 Hosseini
  • 05 Sadeqi
  • 07 Shojaei Booked (Heydari - 77' )
  • 14 Teymourian
  • 16 Ghoochanneijhad
  • 03 Hajsafi (Haghighi - 88' )
  • 21 Dejagah (Jahanbakhsh - 85' )

Substitutes

  • 01 Ahmadi
  • 02 Heydari
  • 08 Haghighi
  • 09 Jahanbakhsh
  • 10 Ansarifard
  • 11 Haddadifar
  • 13 Mahini
  • 17 Alnameh
  • 18 Rahmani
  • 19 Beikzadeh
  • 20 Beitashour
  • 22 Davari
Ref: Milorad Mazic
Att: 57,698

Match Stats

Shots

21 8

On target

4 3

Corners

10 6

Fouls

7 14

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Argentina 1, Iran 0.

90:00 +4:32 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Argentina 1, Iran 0.

90:00 +3:42

Javier Mascherano (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +3:42

Foul by Amir Hossein Sadeqi (Iran).

90:00 +3:11 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Argentina. Lucas Biglia replaces Ángel Di María.

90:00 +0:29 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Argentina 1, Iran 0. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ezequiel Lavezzi.

87:35

Federico Fernández (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

87:35

Foul by Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran).

87:18 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Iran. Reza Haghighi replaces Ehsan Hajsafi.

85:43

Attempt saved. Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Alireza Jahanbakhsh with a through ball.

85:28

Attempt missed. Marcos Rojo (Argentina) header from the centre of the box misses to the right following a corner.

85:13

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Jalal Hosseini.

84:24 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Iran. Alireza Jahanbakhsh replaces Ashkan Dejagah.

83:43

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Alireza Haghighi.

83:41

Attempt missed. Rodrigo Palacio (Argentina) header from a difficult angle on the left is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Javier Mascherano.

82:32

Foul by Marcos Rojo (Argentina).

82:32

Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

81:53

Attempt missed. Marcos Rojo (Argentina) left footed shot from long range on the right misses to the left. Assisted by Ezequiel Lavezzi following a corner.

81:14

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Mehrdad Pooladi.

79:42

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Pejman Montazeri.

76:30 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Argentina. Rodrigo Palacio replaces Gonzalo Higuaín.

76:12 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Argentina. Ezequiel Lavezzi replaces Sergio Agüero.

76:05 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Iran. Khosro Heydari replaces Masoud Shojaei.

75:30

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

74:28

Delay in match Andranik Teymourian (Iran) because of an injury.

74:14

Attempt saved. Ángel Di María (Argentina) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Marcos Rojo.

73:07

Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left from a direct free kick.

71:57 Booking

Booking Masoud Shojaei (Iran) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

71:56

Ángel Di María (Argentina) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

71:56

Foul by Masoud Shojaei (Iran).

71:28

Ezequiel Garay (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

71:28

Foul by Javad Nekounam (Iran).

70:42

Corner, Iran. Conceded by Marcos Rojo.

68:12

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Amir Hossein Sadeqi.

66:48

Corner, Iran. Conceded by Sergio Romero.

66:43

Attempt saved. Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Pejman Montazeri with a cross.

66:08

Attempt blocked. Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ashkan Dejagah with a cross.

65:31

Corner, Iran. Conceded by Ezequiel Garay.

63:11

Corner, Iran. Conceded by Pablo Zabaleta.

63:09

Attempt blocked. Ehsan Hajsafi (Iran) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Javad Nekounam.

61:33

Foul by Fernando Gago (Argentina).

61:33

Andranik Teymourian (Iran) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

60:52

Javier Mascherano (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

60:52

Foul by Ashkan Dejagah (Iran).

59:00

Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Javier Mascherano.

58:03

Attempt blocked. Ángel Di María (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fernando Gago.

57:03

Offside, Iran. Ehsan Hajsafi tries a through ball, but Ashkan Dejagah is caught offside.

56:07

Marcos Rojo (Argentina) wins a free kick on the left wing.

56:07

Foul by Masoud Shojaei (Iran).

55:00

Attempt missed. Ezequiel Garay (Argentina) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ángel Di María with a cross following a corner.

54:26

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Mehrdad Pooladi.

52:37 Booking

Booking Javad Nekounam (Iran) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

52:18

Fernando Gago (Argentina) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

52:18

Foul by Javad Nekounam (Iran).

51:59

Attempt saved. Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Pejman Montazeri with a cross.

51:01

Attempt missed. Sergio Agüero (Argentina) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Marcos Rojo with a cross.

49:36

Attempt missed. Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina) left footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses the top left corner. Assisted by Lionel Messi.

46:25

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Ashkan Dejagah.

45:00

Second Half begins Argentina 0, Iran 0.

45:00 +2:01 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Argentina 0, Iran 0.

45:00 +1:58

Attempt missed. Ehsan Hajsafi (Iran) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left following a set piece situation.

45:00 +1:20

Foul by Fernando Gago (Argentina).

45:00 +1:20

Mehrdad Pooladi (Iran) wins a free kick on the left wing.

44:31

Attempt missed. Federico Fernández (Argentina) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ángel Di María with a cross following a corner.

44:05

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Andranik Teymourian.

41:21

Attempt missed. Jalal Hosseini (Iran) header from the right side of the six yard box is too high. Assisted by Ashkan Dejagah with a cross following a corner.

40:42

Corner, Iran. Conceded by Marcos Rojo.

40:08

Foul by Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina).

40:08

Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran) wins a free kick on the left wing.

37:12

Foul by Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina).

37:12

Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

35:57

Attempt missed. Ezequiel Garay (Argentina) header from the right side of the six yard box is too high. Assisted by Lionel Messi with a cross following a set piece situation.

34:59

Fernando Gago (Argentina) wins a free kick on the left wing.

34:59

Foul by Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran).

33:29

Federico Fernández (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

33:29

Foul by Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran).

32:45

Foul by Federico Fernández (Argentina).

32:45

Ashkan Dejagah (Iran) wins a free kick on the left wing.

32:04

Attempt missed. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.

30:44

Lionel Messi (Argentina) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

30:44

Foul by Andranik Teymourian (Iran).

29:34

Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Sergio Agüero with a headed pass.

26:17

Attempt missed. Ezequiel Garay (Argentina) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Lionel Messi with a cross following a corner.

25:47

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Amir Hossein Sadeqi.

23:23

Attempt missed. Marcos Rojo (Argentina) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Ángel Di María with a cross following a corner.

22:58

Corner, Argentina. Conceded by Jalal Hosseini.

21:20

Attempt saved. Sergio Agüero (Argentina) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Gonzalo Higuaín.

18:50

Attempt missed. Ángel Di María (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Gonzalo Higuaín.

16:35

Corner, Iran. Conceded by Ángel Di María.

14:47

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

13:43

Delay in match Alireza Haghighi (Iran) because of an injury.

12:56

Attempt saved. Gonzalo Higuaín (Argentina) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Fernando Gago with a through ball.

10:48

Attempt blocked. Lionel Messi (Argentina) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fernando Gago.

8:13

Ángel Di María (Argentina) wins a free kick on the left wing.

8:13

Foul by Andranik Teymourian (Iran).

6:40

Ezequiel Garay (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

6:40

Foul by Masoud Shojaei (Iran).

3:50

Attempt missed. Jalal Hosseini (Iran) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Ashkan Dejagah with a cross following a set piece situation.

3:12

Hand ball by Pablo Zabaleta (Argentina).

0:38

Fernando Gago (Argentina) wins a free kick on the right wing.

0:38

Foul by Reza Ghoochanneijhad (Iran).

0:05

Foul by Masoud Shojaei (Iran).

0:05

Marcos Rojo (Argentina) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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