BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Lionel Messi scored a superb goal in stoppage time to give Argentina a 1-0 victory over Iran on Saturday and secure his team’s place in the second round of the World Cup.
Iran had defended solidly throughout the game and also took the match to Argentina in the second half, creating several chances to win the Group F match and cause a tournament sensation.
But Iran was punished for those missed chances when Messi picked up the ball about 20 yards out and curled a shot into the left hand corner.
It was a moment of individual brilliance, and showed why Messi has been voted world player of the year no fewer than four times. Up until that point, he had been kept quiet by stoic Iran defending, while Argentina had at times been exposed to counterattacks.
Iran had several chances to win it, especially in the second half.
The best of those opportunities came in the 67th minute, when midfielder Ashkan Dejagah’s powerful header from close range was tipped just over the bar by Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero.
Earlier, lone striker Reza Ghoochannejhad’s header from close range was saved by Romero after a cross from the right. He later missed a chance for a late winner when his shot was again saved by Romero.
NIGERIA 1, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 0: In Cuiaba, Brazil, Nigeria eliminated Bosnia-Herzegovina from World Cup contention with a win over the tournament newcomers as Peter Odemwingie’s first-half goal got the African champions closer to the knockout stage.
Odemwingie sealed Nigeria’s first victory at a World Cup since 1998 — spanning 10 matches — by finishing from close range in the 29th minute after one of a string of powerful runs by fellow striker Emmanuel Emenike.
Bosnia faded after a bright start, during which star striker Edin Dzeko had a goal contentiously disallowed for offside, and is still without a point in Group F following a 2-1 loss to Argentina in its opener.
A draw would have given the Bosnians something to play for in its last group match, against Iran, but Dzeko had a shot tipped onto the post by goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama in the final few seconds, ending their hopes.
Nigeria needs a point against Argentina on Wednesday to be guaranteed a spot in the Round of 16 — and a surprise win would secure top spot in the group.