Sao Paulo, Brazil (4E Sports) – Angel Di Maria scored late in extra time as Argentina booked a spot in the World Cup quarterfinal via a 1-0 triumph over Switzerland Tuesday at Arena Corinthians.
The Real Madrid winger curled a low shot past Diego Benaglio after an outstanding run and pass action from Lionel Messi with two minutes of extra time remaining to carry Argentina to the next round.
The win sets up Argentina with the winner of the contest between the United States and Belgium Saturday.
Argentina have now won six of their seven World Cup matches that have gone to extra time, while Switzerland has not won a knockout round World Cup match since 1938.
Argentina were forced into one change, with Ezequiel Lavezzi coming in for injured striker Sergio Aguero, while Switzerland stuck with the same XI that triumphed 3-0 over Honduras in their closing Group E fixture.
Alejandro Sabella’s men struggled to make their presence felt in attack for large spells, with Di Maria midfielder guilty of conceding possession on a number of occasions.
Chances were few and far between for both sides in the opening stages in Sao Paulo before Switzerland injected some life into an otherwise dormant half when Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichsteiner tested goalkeeper Sergio Romero in the 28th minute.
Argentina retaliated with Lavezzi calling Benaglio into action at the other end with his team’s first accurate effort moments later.
After Di Maria’s goal, Switzerland had a chance to bury a late equalizer but substitute Blerim Dzemaili’s header on a cross from Bayern Munich man Xherdan Shaqiri hit the left post.