Thanks to technical difficulties, I’m attempting to do this game – one that many saw as being the one thrashing of the World Cup – on my phone. I may need more help than Iran’s keeper.
And it’s all over. For ninety minutes Iran were the equals, or better of their South American counterparts, but come the 91st Messi gave us a glimpse of why he’s considered the best in the world. Adrian Chiles reckons that we’re all grateful that the late goal means there’s still not been a 0-0 on ITV. Maybe I should let that pass without further comment.
GOAL! And Lionel Messi breaks Iranian hearts as, with just one marker, rather than the two he’s had all game, he fires in a curler from twenty yards that just evades Alireza Haghighi in the Iranian goal. Argentina really do not deserve a goal here, especially one of that quality.
There are four minutes added time.
We are now in injury time.
Its still end to end. A game of head tennis between Argentine forwards from a corner leads to a break, and Jahanbakhsh feeds Ghoochannejhad who forces another save from Romero. Reza Haghighi comes on for Hajsafi.
Jahanbahhah comes on for Dejagah.
And as I type that, Palacio forces a save from Haghighi at his near post.
Without wishing to jinx it like so many on the 200% live blog before us, this has been the best 0-0 at a major tournament finals since Scotland-Netherlands at Euro 96.
Argentina now getting desperate. Rojo fires high and wide from distance.
Di Maria fires a shot at Haghighi, but the Iranian keeper is equal to it. And here come the substitutions: Haydari for Shojaei, Lavazzi for Aguero and Palacio for Higuain.
Shojaei goes into the book for a foul on Di Maria on the edge of the box, and Argentina have a free kick in a dangerous area, which Messi puts into the side netting. Somewhere Jonathan Pearce is out of his seat.
And we have the best save of the match so far. Another cross, another header, but Dejagah’s shot is tipped over the bar by Romero.
This has been a great start to the second half.
Penalty shout as Dejagah chases down Zabaleta and claims he’s brought down as Zabaleta clears, but its just an Argentine goal kick.
Javad Nekounam gets booked for a foul on Gago.
And Iran have their best chance almost immediately. Mascherano’s pass to Rojo is intercepted by Masoud Shojaei, he goes on a strong run, plays it wide to Pejman Montezeri who chucks in another floater that Reza Ghoochannejhad heads straight at Sergio Romero, who almost fumbles it.
Rojo creates a great chance. He hits the byline and chucks in a floater. Aguero gets in front of his marker, but makes little to no contact. He should have buried it.
The second half is underway, and Messi works a little magic to put Zabaleta in with a chance on the corner of the box. The penalty area is full of defenders, so he figures his best chance is to shoot, but it sails over the bar.
The half ends with another inswinging free-kick from Dejagah, Garay clears as far as Ehsan Hajsafi who balloons it over the bar. Iran deserve to be level – As against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Argentina need to get Higuain and Aguero into the game more. Both seem to be playing wider than they do for their clubs, while Di Maria is playing more centrally, and each seems neutered as a result, as does Messi, who is also playing a different role to the one he does for his club. It may be worth Alex “Alejandro” Sabella sacrificing one of them (Higuain?) for the good of the team.
Messi’s been subdued so far, but Reza Ghoochannejhad shows his skills in the centre circle. The crowd love the way he pirouettes round the first two challenges only for Ángel Di Maria to take the ball of his toe, and head for the corner flag. Federico Fernandez getting the chance to waste Argentina’s latest corner.
Those freekicks from around 40 yards out near the touchline increasingly look like Iran’s most likely way of scoring.
Another inswinger of a free-kick from Iran evades every attacker, only to be headed out for a corner, and Hosseini heads the resulting corner over the bar.
Messi floats a free kick hopelessly off-target. Who scored the direct last free-kick at a World Cup finals? Was it Keisuke Honda in South Africa? Do we have to go back to 2006?
Higuain has also clattered into the Iranian keeper.
Welcome, we’re quite a few minutes into this game. An interesting game so far with Iran having their best chance so far from a free kick that just evaded Hosseini, while Aguero has forced a save from the keeper, and Rojo has headed just wide from a corner.