A beautiful volley from Gonzalo Higuain in the 8th minute was enough to send Argentina into the semifinals for the first time since 1990, as they won, 1-0, in their quarterfinal matchup with Belgium in Brasilia.
HIGUA-EEEEN! Entering the mtach, many wondered if Argentina were a one-player team. After all, superstar Lionel Messi had been the driving force up to this point. But the curling volley into the side-netting from Gonzalo Higuain reminded everyone that Argentina have more than one weapon in their arsenal. It also broke an unbelievable international goal drought for Higuain.
Gonzalo Higuain's strike has ended a run of 528 minutes without a goal for Argentina #FootballwithCoke— Manobala (@ManobalaV) July 5, 2014
DI MARIA EFFECT: Argentina's mercurial winger Angel Di Maria was subbed off in the first half with a thigh injury. He picked up the injury after a one-on-one battle with Belgium's Vincent Kompany. After the Real Madrid man went off, the Argentine attack suffered, particularly Lionel Messi's ability to find space with the ball.
Where is Messi? The touches are disappearing. Is this the DiMaria effect? #ARGvsBEL— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) July 5, 2014
BELGIAN ATTACK STIFFLED: After firing 17 of 39 shots on target in the Round of 16 win over the USA, the Red Devils couldn't muster much of an attack against Argentina. Kevin de Bruyne, Divock Origi, and Romelu Lukaku struggled to find shots, and struggled even more to hit the frame: Only one of their 10 shots found the target.
WHEREFORE ART THOU, MAROUANE? The performance of Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini came in for particular criticism in the match. The big, shaggy-haired Manchester United midfielder, who is usually such a threat in the air, had no impact on the match.
Marouane Fellaini currently offering Belgium nothing a large hatstand stood upright on the edge of the penalty area wouldn't.— David Hartrick (@DavidHartrick) July 5, 2014
MAN OF THE MATCH: Gonzalo Higuain, Argentina. It wasn't just the matchwinning goal. He was the most dangerous player for the Albiceleste all day. His beautiful dribble run through the Belgian defense late in the first half deserved a goal, but the crossbar was as close as it got. That miss did this to Argentina's manager, Alejandro Sabella.