Hello, and welcome back for another day of football. Here, I will be continuously updating this blog feed with new information as the match unfolds. To keep it short and sweet, I’ll use BBC Sport to copy football commentators’ quotes into this post, and also add my own thoughts based on this match as it unfolds.
WE HAVE KICK OFF!!! THIS IS WHERE THE MATCH DURING THE FIRST HALF GETS INTERESTING, AS ALL THE FANS AROUND THE STADIUM MAKE THE ATMOSPHERE RISE AT AN ALL TIME HIGH :-).
Argentina 1-0 Iran
Former Celtic Manager Neil Lennon: “This is a whole new experience for me, seeing South American football. It really is something else. When you hear the national anthem for Argentina it really is a real joy. One of those moments where despite the heat in the stadium you are getting goose bumps. I’m privileged to experience this.”
Tom Rostance: “It’s our pleasure Neil. You enjoy yourself! Javier Mascherano is winning his 100th cap this afternoon by the way and he is already into the thick of it. Moments later at the other end Iran have a sight of goal as Jalal Hosseini heads a free-kick wide. The wing-backs may be key for Argentina to prise open this stubborn Iranian defence, Marco Rojo gets clear down the left but his delivery is not up to scratch and Iran get it away. Brilliant. Pablo Zabaleta gallops ahead and finds Manchester City team-mate Sergio Aguero with a slick pass to feet. Aguero beats a man with a great bodyswerve but is then closed down before he can pull the trigger. Sergio Aguero was another man who looked a bit off the pace in their opener but he’s very busy so far, pulling out wide into space, playing one-twos with Lionel Messi. He’s up for this. Fernando Gago and Javier Mascherano are running the show so far. They’ve completed every pass they’ve attempted. Pablo Zabaleta is playing right up on the wing. Angel Di Maria gets to the byeline on the left wing and whips in a great cross which Gonzalo Higuain almost gets on the end of, before Lionel Messi cuts in onto his left foot and cracks a shot against an Iran shirt. Can Iran see this out?”
Neil Lennon: “Maybe Argentina have to get the ball wide quickly and use overlaps from Rojo or Zabaleta. But that was a good spell of pressure and Aguero worked hard to get the ball back before a brilliant cross from Di Maria.”
Tom Rostance: “Gonzalo Higuain is taking the focal point of the Argentine attack, but at times there are six or seven men up front. And there’s the first chance! Fernando Gago picks Higuain out with a classy throughball, goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi is out to meet him and smothers it well. Well played!”
Neil Lennon: “Gonzalo Higuan does that brilliantly, he plays on the shoulder but it’s great goalkeeping because he’s spread himself well.”
Tom Rostance: “Well Iran have seen out the opening 15 minutes with the concession of just one chance. With an attack of this magnitude up against them that is good going…”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Scouse Pete: Watching Iran is like watching six-year-olds. When the ball goes, all 11 of them go after it.
Tom Rostance: “Iran win a corner – and it almost costs them. Like France last night, Argentina win the header and are suddenly away. They have a five-on-four break which they work slickly across the pitch, but a slack touch from Gonzalo Higuain lets him down and the chance comes to nothing.”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Rian Hoskins (4-2-3-1): Ochoa; Aurier, Marquez, Varane, Blind; Moreno, Rodriguez, Olic, Muller, Robben; Benzema. Van Persie just misses out.
Shohidur Rahman (4-3-3): Ochoa; Armero, Marquez, Umana, Blind; Medel, Vidal, James Rodriguez; Robben, RVP, Campbell.
Tom Rostance: “Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa has a 100% pick rate in the team of the tournament so far. What a game he had against Brazil…It’s never easy to unpick a packed defence but Argentina almost score a beauty. Gonzalo Higuain receives the ball inside the area, he lays it back to Sergio Aguero and he curls it around Angel Di Maria and toward the top corner, only for Alireza Haghighi to make a flying save!”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Jamie Crawford knows his: Hart, Johnson, Jagielka, Cahill, Baines, Gerrard, Henderson, Welbeck, Rooney, Sterling, Sturridge.
Matthew Neal: Casillas; Holebas, Jagielka, Lugano, Inkoom; Ronaldo, Song, Alonso, Musa; Lukaku, Costa
Neil Lennon: “A magnificent combination play by Higuain, Aguero and Di Maria. They are knocking on the door now.”
Tom Rostance: “He should score! Marcos Rojo climbs highest to meet a corner and heads it just past the far post. Argentina battering down the door…”
BBC Sport’s David Ornstein in Belo Horizonte: “That injury break allowed the players and fans to catch their breath after a lively start on a off the pitch. Alejandro Sabella looks a picture of calm in the Argentina technical, while opposite number Carlos Querioz has spent the first 20 minutes delivering non-stop instructions to his team, who are attempting to disrupt their opponents’ flow with some heavy challenges. The atmosphere is simply electric and there’s currently a chant swirling around that is literally making the stadium bounce.”
Tom Rostance: “Argentina now getting in behind this packed Iran defence with ease. Angel Di Maria bursts clear this time but can’t get a telling connection on his ball across and it is turned away for another corner which comes to nothing. Surely the favourites will score soon…?”
England News Conference: England’s striker, Wayne Rooney, insists that Roy Hodgson is the right man that can lead the national team towards the Euro2016 Football Games, despite their World Cup group-stage exit.
Wayne Rooney: “”He’s put enthusiasm in the team. Roy is the man to take us forward,” says the Manchester United player. We appreciate what he’s done for us. He’s changed the way we play over the last couple of years. You can see the progression. I feel we’re getting better and this will help the younger players and help us become a better team.”
Tom Rostance: “Lionel Messi is dropping deeper and deeper to get on the ball, often coming out to the right-hand side behind Pablo Zabaleta. He’s had no joy yet though.”
Neil Lennon: “They are offering absolutely nothing going forward, Iran. A very difficult position to be in but you have to show a little more. They will have to do better in an attacking sense and get more support to the front man. They will be delighted if they can weather the next 15 minutes though and take all the sting out of the game.”
Tom Rostance: “Lionel Messi back through the middle and wins a free-kick in a good area…It’s close too. He fizzes the ball over the wall and just over the top.”
England News Conference: Goalkeeper Joe Hart says England’s early World Cup exit is the lowest point of his career.
“Right now it is. It is a strange empty feeling. I’ve put everything into this tournament, like I do in everything I do in my career. But it is cruel, it is really gutting for me,” admitted the Manchester City player.
“It is a hard feeling to have,” added Wayne Rooney, who was sat alongside Hart in the news conference. “In previous tournaments we have not played as well and gone through but this tournament we have played better and could have got results. It is fine margins. It is tough to take we’re out of the tournament.”
Tom Rostance: “Javier Mascherano is not happy with referee Milorad Mazic for a few tackles going in, but the whole Argentine side are growing frustrated as they can’t find that opening goal. The longer Iran hold on, the more annoyed the South Americans will get.”
England News Conference: England coach Roy Hodgson continues to have the full support of his players, says goalkeeper Joe Hart.
“Of course he does. We’ve got to stick together. We came into this as a group,” he said. “We haven’t succeeded but have to stick together. They prepared us as best they could and we haven’t performed on the field.”
Tom Rostance: “Great chance! Argentina against threaten from a set-piece as Lionel Messi picks out Ezequiel Garay at the back stick, but his header is over the crossbar from close range. How much longer can Iran hang on?”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Conan Wearn: Its nearly 30 minutes in and Messi hasn’t scored a hat-trick. I am disappointed.
Steven.Kennell: Very boring and repetitive stuff from Argentina! Plenty of teams looking much much stronger!
Tom Rostance: “He’s not a happy man. Lionel Messi is being shut out.”
THAT FIRST HALF WASN’T EXACTLY HOW I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE…NOT TO WORRY, HOPEFULLY THE SECOND HALF WILL BE BETTER.
2ND HALF KICK OFF!!! NOW I JUST HOPE THIS SECOND HALF IS BETTER, AS THE FIRST HALF WASN’T EXACTLY A GOOD ONE.
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Iain: Is it just me or does Messi never really seem at his best on the biggest stage for Argentina?
Djethro Colmer: Iran are doing a New Zealand of 2010 – don’t lose a single game and go home with heads held high and a respectable 3 points.
Tom Rostance: “Iran could qualify with three 0-0s you know. Entertainers…Nice stuff down the left from Marcos Rojo, he beats a man and whips in a cross which is just over the head of Sergio Aguero. A few whistles around the stadium. They came to see goals…Just when you think Lionel Messi has gone out of the game – he comes to life. He has four men around him but suddenly darts away from them all with a lovely burst of pace and feeds Pablo Zabaleta on his right. The Manchester City man goes for a left-footed shot but curls it high and wide. Marcos Rojo is the outlet on the left. He whips it in to the near post and Sergio Aguero should do much better, mistiming his header and flicking it wide.”
Neil Lennon: “This is what Iran made Nigeria do. They slow the game down because they get so many players behind the ball. It’s almost like a testimonial pace at the moment.”
Tom Rostance: “Just when you think Lionel Messi has gone out of the game – he comes to life. He has four men around him but suddenly darts away from them all with a lovely burst of pace and feeds Pablo Zabaleta on his right. The Manchester City man goes for a left-footed shot but curls it high and wide. Marcos Rojo is the outlet on the left. He whips it in to the near post and Sergio Aguero should do much better, mistiming his header and flicking it wide. Wow! Iran almost score out of the blue! They break with intent for the first time, they have an overload on the right and the cross picks out your man Reza Ghoochannejhad in the middle, but his header is well saved by Sergio Romero. Ashkan Dejagah chases a lost cause and wants a penalty as he is challenged by Pablo Zabaleta – but the City man just got a toe on the ball. Argentina are leaving it loose at the back.
Neil Lennon: “Wow. Absolute wow. This is the fascination of this game. Lovely skill to beat Mascherano, a nice ball wide, the cross from Dejagah and the header, brings a very good save. That is the sign of a good goalkeeper because he has had nothing to do and then you have to keep your concentration. I think Iran should have had the penalty. Having seen it again on the super slow-mo it’s a definite penalty.”
Tom Rostance: “Iran are growing in confidence now, moving the ball well and keeping it for periods of time for the first time. Argentina playing 4-2-4 and still not having much joy. They’ve not tested goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi nearly enough. Hello! Finally Lionel Messi has space as the game starts to open up, he bears down on goal right through the middle and bends a shot wide from 20 yards. Not very far wide that one.”
David Ornstein: “It was in Belo Horizonte that one of the World Cup’s great upsets took place as England were beaten by USA in 1950 – and that Ghoochannejad chance, followed by Dejagah’s penalty appeal, have the Iran supporters believing they could cause an even bigger shock. Ear-splitting noise in here. Argentina coach Sabella is back in the dugout – not much he can do to help his team now.”
Tom Rostance: “The Argentine fans remain behind their side. There’s a fresh wave of song moving through the stadium as Argentina labour against the red wall of defence. Iran can sense a stonker of an upset. Ehsan Hajsafi shoots from range, and it is deflected just wide before the corner causes more chaos! Argentina look a mess at the back.”
JUST OVER 70 MINUTES IN AND THERE ARE NO SIGNS SHOWING FOR IRAN OR POSSIBLY ARGENTINA.
Tom Rostance: “This is extraordinary! It’s all Iran now as Fulham man Ashkan Dejagah is only denied the opener by a brilliant save from Sergio Romero, his header was flying in until the Monaco man got a touch to it. We could be on for the mother of all World Cup Cupsets…”
Neil Lennon: “It’s a fantastic save. A great run across Zabaleta from Dejagah. This game is on a knife-edge. Magnificent theatre. Romero is some keeper though and had a fantastic season with Monaco. They are men inspired at the moment Iran. They are fighting for every ball and winning many of them too.”
Tom Rostance: “Gonzalo Higuain has had a stinker for Argentina, who are crying out for Gabriel Batistuta or Hernan Crespo now. Another Angel Di Maria cross goes begging. No movement or desire on display from the laconic number nine…”
David Ornstein: “The jacket has come off for Carlos Queiroz and who can blame him given then red-hot atmosphere generated by his team’s remarkable second-half performance? Iran could easily have been 2-0 up and had a penalty. Argentina appear to be on the ropes.”
Tom Rostance: “Iran have never got out of the group at the World Cup. Draw (or even win…) today and thy will be right in the mix. Argentina have less than 20 minutes to end the resistance. They don’t look like doing so yet. Free-kick for Argentina – Lionel Messi hits the side-netting…Iran were 25/1 to win the game before kick-off, with the draw available at 9s. There are plenty of Argentina fans praying now…”
Twitter Debate: #bbcworldcup
Dennis Ethan: Iran presently playing with aplomb and won’t be surprised if they nick a victory here. C’mon Argentina though.
Eric White: You got to admire Carlos Queiroz and this Iranian team regardless of how this game finishes.
Tom Rostance: “Angel Di Maria has been the most lively and the most likely for Argentina. He rattles in a low shot which is well held by Alireza Haghighi. Time to throw the dice. Rodrigo Palacio of Inter and PSG forward Ezequiel Lavezzi are on for Argentina as they pack the place with strikers. Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain are off. They’ve not played well. There are 12 minutes to go against Iran, Argentina have the ball out wide and there’s not one man in the box!”
Neil Lennon: “I don’t believe those substitutions. I know they brought on two strikers for two strikers but with 15 minutes to go, I don’t think there is any need for the two defensive midfielders.”
Tom Rostance: “It’s so slow from Argentina. Very disappointing stuff. But tremendous defending from Iran.”
FIVE MINUTES TO GO AND THINGS AREN’T LOOKING UP AT ALL FOR EITHER TEAM, THIS MATCH HAS MAINLY BEEN THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTING HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY.
IN THE LAST FEW MINUTES, ARGENTINA FINALLY SCORED AND AS IT’S NOW FULL TIME, THEY HAVE OFFICIALLY QUALIFIED, WITH IRAN IN UTTER DEFEAT.
THIS MATCH, BY FAR HAS BEEN THE MOST DISAPPOINTING MATCH IN HISTORY, HARDLY ANY GOALS WERE SCORED DURING THE FIRST HALF, BUT THE SECOND HALF, NOT SO GOOD, UNTIL THAT GOAL WAS JUST SCORED BY ARGENTINA. (MESSI – 90’+1)
THANK YOU FOR KEEPING UPDATED TO THIS BLOG FFED, CHECK BACK AT 8:00PM FOR THE MATCH BETWEEN GERMANY AND GHANA.
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