Saturday was definitely a day of surprises in the World Cup, and it started with Argentina facing Iran.
It started out about as you'd expect, with Argentina holding the ball a lot, and kind of feeling their way around the Iranian defense. And that defense was giving them quite a bit of play, only pressuring in their own half.
That slow build-up didn't result in anything until the thirteenth minute, when one of the Argentines got a point blank shot. But the Iranian goaltender was ready for it, and stopped it (though he appeared to be hurt a little in the process).
In the eighteenth minute, it looked like the Argentinians were going to get a great chance on a counterattack with numbers. But one of the few defenders managed to cut off the pass to the middle, and allow the other defenders to get back into position. That had come on the heels of the Iranians getting a decent chance on a corner kick.
In the thirty-third minute, Messi had a fairly close free kick, and bent it past the wall, but put it over the net as well. The Iranians built up to get a corner kick on the ensuing play, and then did a nice job of dispersing the counterattack that followed.
Mostly it was just a matter of watching the Argentines build up and try to score, and the Iranians work hard to prevent the score. It took until the 52nd minute before the Iranians forced a good save from the Land of Silver's keeper. It came off a good header from a cross, but went right into the goaltender.
It took another ten minutes for the Iranians to generate some offensive pressure, but they still didn't manage to get a good scoring chance out of that.
It took another twenty-five minutes after that for the Iranians to get another chance.
But meanwhile, the Argentines, despite a lot of offensive pressure, found the Iranian back line unyielding (and a bit lucky, to be sure). So the Argentinians were definitely feeling pressure to win the game; after all, this wasn't even supposed to be a game.
Well, in stoppage time, Argentina finally broke through. No surprise, the score came off the boot of Messi. He was cutting across, just above the box, from right to left, and just before getting to the goal face, he fired a curling shot across that snaked its way between several defenders, and hit the far side of the net. Quite an impressive shot.
So Argentina didn't give up any points, but they were pushed to the limit by a very game Iranian team. Kudos to the Persians for hanging in there as long as they did. I must admit, I thought they'd be punching bags in the tournament, but they certainly haven't looked out of place. They even have a chance of moving on, if they can beat Bosnia.