Argentina 1 Switzerland 0: Progress all that mattered - Messi

Argentina's Angel di Maria celebrates after scoring.
Argentina's Angel di Maria celebrates after scoring.
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Lionel Messi played down fears about Argentina’s World Cup campaign after they needed a dramatic extra-time winner to see off Switzerland in Sao Paulo.

Angel Di Maria scored in the 118th minute to give Argentina a 1-0 win over the Swiss at the Arena Corinthians.

It would have been a different story had Switzerland taken their chances in the first half.

But, despite four narrow wins at the World Cup, Messi is not worried about Argentina’s form heading into Saturday’s quarter-final clash against Belgium in Brasilia.

“It was not an easy match, but we knew it wouldn’t be,” the Argentina captain told a press conference in the Arena Corinthians after the match.

“We have seen throughout the World Cup that all the matches have been on an equal footing and lots of important teams have gone out.

“What is important is that we are through to the next stage - that is what we wanted.”

Diego Benaglio had an impressive game in goal for Switzerland, denying Di Maria, Rodrigo Palacio and Pablo Zabaleta earlier in the match.

Messi feared Argentina could have been heading out until he squared for Di Maria and he curled the ball past Benaglio at the death.

“I was nervous towards the end because we couldn’t score and any mistake could have left us out,” the Barcelona forward said.

“The minutes were passing by and we didn’t want the match to go to penalties.

“We were suffering, but we had a special play - I passed to Angel and now we can celebrate.”

The defeat brought down the curtain on Ottmar Hitzfeld’s long and successful managerial career.

The Switzerland coach, who bows out of the game with seven Bundesliga titles and two Champions League crowns, said there was no way he would return to management.

“I will go on working for German TV, but my job as a coach has finished now,” said the 65-year-old, whose brother died on the eve of the match.

“I am proud of my career. I have been very fortunate to coach marvellous teams and it has been a great honour to work for Switzerland.

“I therefore am proud to say goodbybe to the Switzerland team with a heart full of emotions.

“We can walk tall and leave the World Cup with our heads held high.”

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