Football

Messi: Make the most of our 'luck'

LEAVING IT LATE: Two minutes before the dreaded penalty shootout, Argentina finally break the deadlock. Drawing on reserves of energy that no human being should have, Lionel Messi summons up a final burst of pace, slips the ball to Angel di Maria on the right of the penalty box, and the Real Madrid winger hits it first time into the right-hand corner of Diego Benaglio’s goal to end the Swiss’ hopes. TNP GRAPHICS: BILLY KER

Lionel Messi admitted that he was as nervous as anyone during Argentina's "lucky" 1-0 win over Switzerland in the last 16 this morning (Singapore time), but urged his team to make the most of their reprieve.

The captain and talisman finally prised open the Swiss defence deep into extra time in Sao Paulo, two minutes from the penalty shootout, and picked out Angel di Maria for the game's only goal.

Messi said that the nail-biting win, in front of tens of thousands of Argentine fans, could stand his team in good stead later in the tournament.

"Suffering - that's what I felt, but now we know we can go through times like this," said Messi.

"We were lucky. We had luck on our side and now we have to take advantage of it and move on."

NERVOUS

Argentina will now take on Belgium in the quarter-finals on Saturday as they go for their third World Cup title, on the soil of arch-rivals Brazil.

"Just like everyone else, I imagine, at times I was nervous because we couldn't score a goal and any mistake would have put us out of the World Cup," Messi said.

"We didn't want penalties, so we wanted to win it in extra time.

"For the goal, I thought maybe I should take a chance.

"And then I saw Angel on the right and I passed to him and, fortunately, we were able to score."

The Barcelona star was named Man of the Match for the fourth successive time by online voters, ahead of di Maria who had 10 shots on target - more than the entire Swiss team.

"I don't know whether I deserve this one (award) or not," said Messi.

"But what's important is that we've made it to the next stage, which is what we wanted." - AFP.


We gave everything out there. We left our heart and soul on the pitch. We were always in the game and we never gave up for a minute.

— Argentina’s match-winner Angel di Maria

World Cup