Argentina qualified for its first FIFA World Cup semi-final since 1990 thanks to a 1-0 victory over Belgium in Brasilia at the quarter-final stage on Saturday. The Belgians looked to be playing a very deep game in the opening minutes giving the sense that perhaps their plan for the day was to try and catch the Argentines on the counter. In the eighth minute the Red Devils were exposed when they were dispossessed on the halfway line. Angel Di Maria started the counter and fed Gonzalo Higuain whose half-volley across the goal from the edge of the area beat Thibaut Courtois and it was 1-0 to the South Americans.
Sergio Romero was called into action after 25 minutes. The Belgians attacked down the left courtesy of Kevin De Bruyne who forced Romero into a save but he could only parry it but unfortunately for Divock Origi he was too far away in spite of his best stretch. Alejandro Sabella was forced into a substitution when Di Maria appeared to hurt himself when taking a shot at goal that was blocked by Vincent Kompany. Enzo Perez was sent on for the Real Madrid forward.
In the 42nd minute Belgium had a dream opportunity from a throw-in when Jan Vertonghen’s cross found Kevin Mirallas’ head with Romero stranded but the attempt went wide. At the break La Albiceleste were one goal to the good against their European opponents.
Marc Wilmots gave it 13 minutes in the second stanza before he decided it was time for a change. Dries Mertens replaced Mirallas and Romelu Lukaku came on for Origi. A cross from 5 met the head of Marouane Fellaini just seconds later but it flew over Romero’s cross bar.
Toby Alderweireld was punished with a yellow card in the 69th minute for a poor challenge on Lucas Biglia and it meant the Belgian defender would miss the semi-final if his country could get there. A minute later Rodrigo Palacio replaced Ezequiel Lavezzi for the Argentines. Nacer Chadli came on to replace Eden Hazard as Wilmots hoped his side could manufacture a goal in the final 15 minutes.
Sabella made his final change ten minutes from time as he hauled off goal scoring hero Higuain for holding midfield man Fernando Gago. Argentina closed the match out despite the kitchen sink being thrown at them in the dying minutes. The South Americans are in their first World Cup semi-final since 1990 will be on Wednesday in Sao Paulo against either Costa Rica or the Netherlands.