Coach Alejandro Sabella has labelled Lionel Messi a ‘genius’ after the forward’s late goal gave Argentina a 1-0 win over Iran.
La Albiceleste endured a tricky afternoon against Carlos Quieroz’s side who defended resiliently throughout their clash in Belo Horizonte, with Iran having chances to steal all three points themselves.
However, it was left to Messi to secure the win for Argentina after he curled a sumptuous 25-yard strike into the bottom-left corner – a goal that confirms their place in the last 16 of the World Cup.
Following the Barcelona superstar’s late effort, Sabella believes that every team in the tournament looks at Argentina with envy.
"All players who played today have contributed to this victory but of course we have a genius who is called Messi. Fortunately he is Argentine,” he told reporters.
“Everybody would have liked to have Messi but it is us who have him.
"It was a very difficult match and Iran played a great World Cup match. But that last play from Lionel, no-one could have stopped it,” Sabella added.
“Not even two goalkeepers could have stopped that Lionel shot.”
Messi’s late winner was his 40th goal for Argentina, and the four-time Ballon d’Or winner says he was relieved to see his effort hit the back of the net.
"When I saw that I had scored I was very happy, because we were in added time already and wanted to qualify for the next phase," he said.
"It was a difficult game to be honest. They were able to close up at the back, so it was difficult for us to break down the defence.”