Saturday, 21 June 2014

Brazil WC 2014 - Argentina vs Iran, LIVE COMMENTARY:

Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post - another LIVE Commentary from the LIVE action in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. 

Today is Saturday, with some interesting fixtures set to be played today. 

This LIVE Commentary is of the Group F tie between huge favourites Argentina and underdogs Iran; if Argentina do win today then they will secure their progression to the knock-out rounds, having beaten Bosnia 2-1 last week.

Top-class finish: Messi was quiet in the first-half, but stunned Bosnia with a super solo effort
Shaky, but flashes of brilliance: Argentina were held out well by Bosnia, but grabbed the result
Iran drew 0-0 with African side Nigeria last time out, and celebrated their first point in a World Cup, which is a significant landmark for the underdogs. 

They will have to do well from the start if they are to beat Argentina today, who are eager to improve on their shaky 2-1 win over Bosnia and dominate against a weak Iran side.

Here are the team line-ups for today's match - 

Argentina: Romero, Zabaleta, Garay, Fernandez, Rojo, Gago, Mascherano, di Maria, Aguero, Higuain and Messi.

Subs: Orion, Campagnaro, Biglia, Perez, Rodriguez, Augusto Fernandez, Demichelis, Alvarez, Palacio, Lavezzi, Basanta and Andujar.  

Iran: Haghighi, Montazeri, Hosseini, Sadeqi, Pooladi, Shojaei, Teymourian, Nekounam, Hajsafi, Dejagah and Ghoochannejhad.

Subs: Ahmadi, Heydari, Haghighi, Jahanbakhsh, Ansarifard, Haddadifar, Mahini, Alenemeh, Rahmani, Beikzadeh, Beitashour and Davari.  

17:00 - The pre-match national anthems and handshakes have been completed, and Iran kick-off the match.

0: Iran need to frustrate the Argentinians today and do well to defend, push them off the ball and go on the counter attack and take their chances if they get any.  

1: Di Maria goes down near the centre circle under the challenge from Shojaei who comes from behind and tackles the Real Madrid winger's heels.

2: Di Maria gradually gets back to his feet, as Argentina get the ball moving around the pitch again.

3: A half-chance for Iran almost ends in a shock opener from the underdogs, Dejagah with a free-kick delivery into the box is headed on by Hosseini, who heads the ball towards goal but does not connect with the ball cleanly and it trickles out for a goal-kick.

5: Good pass-and-move by Argentina; moving forward on the ball and Aguero swivels past his marker and shapes to shoot - the attempted shot is blocked and the linesman has his flag up for offside. Unlucky.

8: Good passing by Argentina, making Iran work to chase the ball and keeping possession nicely - just need the final ball and they could be ahead.  

11: Messi and Di Maria do well to link-up together and go forward with a neat passing move, but Iran scramble clear as Argentina go close to their goal. 

12: It looks to be that kind of match; Iran having to defend for the most part and take their chances when they get them.

13: CHANCE! Fernando Gago with a great through ball pass towards the path of Higuain in the area, but the goalkeeper does well to read the pass and comes off his line to smother the effort from the Napoli striker. 

14: It seems as though the goalkeeper Haghighi has hurt himself in the process, as Higuain looks to have accidentally kicked him in the shin as he goes down to smother the ball.

15: The physio come onto the pitch to treat the goalkeeper, but he looks as though he will stay on. Strapping his leg as a precautionary measure - and Iran restart the game with a throw-in.

17: A quick Argentina counter attack is snuffed out; a corner is cleared away into the path of Di Maria who sprints forward, passes the ball across to Messi who looks up and feeds Higuain on the edge of the area - but Higuain hesitates as he tries to gain control of the ball and it gives Iran a chance to win the ball back.

21: SAVE! Curling effort from Aguero after a neat lay-off by Higuain, good diving save by Haghighi to parry the ball to safety as Argentina go up a gear in terms of intensity. Still 0-0.

23: CLOSE! Young defender Marcos Rojo narrowly misses with a leaping header in the middle of the area from Di Maria's corner, as Iran are let-off and the ball trickles past the post. 

26: Some solid defending by Iran as they track back quickly enough to swarm defenders around the approaching run of Di Maria, who dribbles past his marker and sprints into the area before being blocked by a stubborn Iranian defence towards goal.

30: Not a notable chance for Argentina yet, half-an-hour played and the score is still goal-less. Higuain with the best chance of the game so far, a good save by Haghighi to come out and smother though.

31: Argentina free-kick in a dangerous position, 25 yards out as Lionel Messi is brought down near the edge of the area as he begins to accelerate past his defensive marker.

32: Messi steps up to take it.... just wide!
Unlucky from the Barcelona striker, the effort curls over the bar as the goalkeeper stands rooted to the spot.

33: And now Iran have a half-chance, a free-kick is taken quickly but the ball is cleared away by Napoli defender Federico Fernandez as Argentina attempt to counter attack but are stopped in their tracks by defensive-midfielder Teymourian.

35: Argentina free-kick is whipped into the box with an inviting delivery by Messi, the ball falls into the path of Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay who heads the ball just over the bar. 

36: Good chance for Argentina there, getting closer though.

37: Iran are doing well tactics-wise, they are shutting Argentina out and putting men behind the ball so that they can pressurise them, which is frustrating to see if you are a Argentina supporter for sure.

44: Another half-chance for Argentina, as a corner by Di Maria is whipped into the box for Fernandez, but he fails to hit the ball cleanly and it bounces down into the ground and out for a goal-kick.

45: The fourth official has signalled for 2 minutes of stoppage time at the end of a frustrating half to watch. Iran have been defending throughout and have barely got forward, making it hard for Argentina to break them down and they have got the job done so far though. 

45+1: Iran know that Argentina are good, that's why they have all their players behind the ball back in their own half ready to defend against the likes of Di Maria, Messi and Aguero. Not giving them any space, swarming around them and containing their threat so far. 

45+1: And they will have the last half-chance of the game, after a needless challenge at the far side is adjudged to be a foul. 

45+2: Argentina get rid of the ball partially clear, before an effort from Hajsafi is well wide, over the bar from the Iranian midfielder. The referee blows his whistle for half-time.

Argentina 0 Iran 0
Argentina have been dominant but not good enough to break down a stubborn Iranian side who have done well to push men behind the ball and frustrate their opponents.

Although it makes for a frustrating watch to see the underdogs constantly defend and barely attack apart from through set-pieces, it will be interesting to see if they can keep this up in the second-half, when tiredness and the humidity in the stadium comes into play and the pitch is more stretched out.

18:03 - The second-half has begun. No substitutions for either side.

45: Argentina have looked good when they are on the ball, but it is clear that they need to have a bit more urgency about them if they are to break down this Iran side. 

46: Corner for Argentina is well headed away by Teymourian in the area, as the Argentinians keep up the pressure. 

47: Good through ball pass by Mascherano into the path of Gago, who runs forward and attempts to win the ball near the touchline; but there was too much power on the pass and the ball trickles out for a goal-kick.

48: Good dribbling run by Rojo who beats two markers with skill before whipping an inviting cross into the box for Aguero, who is not tall enough to latch onto the ball as Iran clear away.

49: Messi weaves past a defender before unselfishly passing across to Manchester City full-back Pablo Zabaleta; who shapes to strike but his effort curls wide. 

51: Another great ball into the box by Rojo, who moves quickly down the flank to latch onto a through ball - the ball flies into the path of Aguero who fails to react quickly enough to head towards goal from close range.

52: CHANCE! Iran almost find a breakthrough on the counter attack as a quick break falls to the path of Reza Ghoochannejihad, who heads the ball towards goal but Romero parries the ball away to safety as Argentina clear. 

53: First yellow card of the match goes to Nekounam who is booked for a late challenge on Gago near the centre circle.

54: Fulham winger Ashkan Dejagah reacts badly to a lack of a decision from the referee; as he feels that he was impeded by Zabaleta in the area, but no penalty is given and Argentina have a goal-kick.

Penalty appeal? Dejagah is brought down in the area by Zabaleta, but the referee waves play on
55: Replays show that Dejagah was right to react angrily to the lack of a penalty being given by the referee, he beat Zabaleta for pace and there was clear contact by the City full-back in the area as he tried to track back and defend.

58: Poor final ball by Gago after a spell of pressure from Argentina is wasted; he mis-hits the ball completely and the attempted cross into the area flies over the bar.

59: CHANCE! Messi creates a half-chance out of nothing after a good through ball by Mascherano finds his club team-mate in a yard of space from 35 yards out.

Messi speeds past the Iranian defence and shapes to shoot with a curling placed effort towards goal, but the shot is narrowly wide of the target and fizzes past the post.

60: Just shows you how much of an ever-present danger Messi is to the opposition defence, he has been unselfish today and almost broke the deadlock there!

63: Goal-mouth scramble in the Argentina area, as Iran burst forward but the Argentinians eventually get the ball away to safety, thanks to a hoof up the pitch by Gago. 

66: CHANCE! A long through ball is whipped into the box, as Dejagah beats his man and executes a diving header towards goal - but the fingertips of goalkeeper Romero parry the effort over the bar and out for a corner-kick.

67: Argentina clear the danger away, a real end-to-end second-half. Iran have realised that they could get a good result out of this match and are looking dangerous on the counter attack, as well as being tight at the back.

70: Argentina are dominating in terms of shots on goal, with 14 compared to 7 from their opponents Iran. They are not used to playing against stubborn teams like this one; putting men behind the ball whenever they are on the attack.

74: Good football by Di Maria, going on a jinking run beating two defenders before getting brought down by the late challenge of Shojaei on the edge of the area - free-kick in a dangerous position.

75: Messi with the free-kick.... just wide! His curling effort hits the side netting as Iran have a chance to slow the game down once again.

76: Teymourian is struggling with a knock near the centre circle, and the physio are coming on to treat him. Painful blow to the ankle, but they will be eager to keep him on.

78: Both sides making substitutions now - 
Argentina: Aguero and Higuain OFF, Lavezzi and Palacio ON
Iran: Shojaei OFF, Heydari ON

80: 10 minutes to go, and Iran are staying strong in defence.

81: Rojo does well to keep the ball on the flank for Argentina; but there is a lack of end product at the moment. 

87: Iran making their last two substitions, as they look to see out the rest of the match - 
Ashkan Dejagah OFF
Ehsan Hajsafi OFF
Reza Haghighi ON
Alireza Jahanbaksh ON

90: 4 minutes of stoppage time to play, to cap off what would be a great result for Iran. They have been solid in defence, can they hold out for the remainder of stoppage time? 

90+1: GOAL! No they can't! Harsh but it's that magical genius and Barcelona striker Lionel Messi again with a super strike to set Argentina on their way with minutes remaining!

Stunned: Messi breaks the deadlock late on for Argentina, with an effort from outside the area.
90+2: An absolutely sensational strike from Messi, he shifts the ball onto his left foot and curls an effort from 25 yards out into the bottom corner of the net, out of reach for goalkeeper Haghighi. 

90+3: Argentina SUB - 
Angel Di Maria OFF
Lucas Biglia ON

90+4: The referee blows his whistle for full-time, and it's harsh on a stubborn Iranian side. 

Messi pops up with a late finish to give Argentina all 3 points in a frustrating display; they are through to the Last 16 regardless of their result against Nigeria next week.

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