Argentina 1 Belgium 0: Player ratings as Arsenal target nets winner

Argentina 1 Belgium 0: Player ratings as Gonzalo Higuain nets an eighth-minute winner to book his side's place in last four

Argentina
1
Belgium
0

Argentina

Sergio Romero Forced into action in the 25th minute as he parried clear De Bruyne’s shot from outside his area. Alert to collect Garay’s goal-bound clearance. Full-stretch for Witsel’s late effort which flew over the crossbar. 6/10

Pablo Zabaleta Excellent tackle to stop an Origi run. The Manchester City right-back was typically assured and only beaten on a couple of occasions. 7

Martin Demichelis Perhaps viewed as a point of weakness in the Argentina side, the veteran centre-half did a sufficient job replacing Federico Fernandez. Used all his experience. In the 93rd minute, Demichelis did an excellent job to force Lukaku wide and cut off the striker’s chance to test Romero. 8

Ezequiel Garay Had to contend with the physicality of Origi, Fellaini and Lukaku. Did a good job. Close to toe-poking a clearance into his own net at Romero’s near post. 7

Jose Maria Basanta Dwarfed by Fellaini as the United midfielder couldn’t keep his header down. Solid display replacing Marcos Rojo. 6

Lucas Biglia Replaced Fernando Gago in the starting line-up. Not as composed as Mascherano but still a solid performance. Clattered Vertonghen to earn a yellow card. 6

Javier Mascherano Always in the thick of the action, whether it be dropping back to form effectively a back five, or starting his side’s counter-attacks. 7

Ezequiel Lavezzi Like Messi, Lavezzi made a slow start with his main contributions a couple of tidy lay-offs. Didn’t create too many opportunities for himself or team-mates, but the Paris Saint-Germain forward closed down tirelessly to deny Alderweireld the chance to roam forward. 6

Lionel Messi Superb movement in the lead up to Higuain’s strike. Played a glorious ball to Di Maria, with Kompany snuffing the half-chance out. It took four Belgians to stop his 38th-minute run, but the Barcelona forward pinged his free-kick narrowly over. Fluffed a late chance to seal a 2-0 win, with Belgium’s resulting attack almost resulting in a dramatic equaliser. 7

Angel Di Maria Deflected pass fell to Higuain for the opener. May have struggled for 118 minutes against the Swiss, but the Real Madrid man made a very bright start. Couple of early mazy runs before testing Kompany’s pace and reading of the game. 6

Gonzalo Higuain (man of the match) The Napoli striker ended his World Cup goal drought with a clinical eighth-minute finish. Looked a menace up front as Higuain enjoyed his best half of the tournament. Hit the crossbar nine minutes after a brilliant run, just lacked a clinical finish. 8

Substitutes

Enzo Perez Replaced injured Di Maria. More defensive-minded than the Madrid forward. Closed down well. 6

Rodrigo Palacio Ambitious late effort. 5

Fernando Gago N/A

Belgium

Thibaut Courtois The Chelsea goalkeeper could do little prevent Higuain’s goal. Stood tall to deny Messi in added time. 6

Toby Alderweireld Exposed in the opening minutes as Messi’s pass threaded in Lavezzi. Booked for a crunching tackle on Biglia. 5

Daniel Van Buyten Headed well over from a first-half corner. Went forward late on in a bid to score a leveller but had no joy against Argentina’s centre-halves. 6

Vincent Kompany Normally so composed, it was the Manchester City captain and not his club team-mate Demichelis who gave the ball away, resulting in Higuain’s goal. Good recovery to block Di Maria’s effort on the half-hour mark. Had the humiliation of being nutmegged as Higuain hit the woodwork. 5

Jan Vertonghen Ball ricocheted off the Spurs defender to tee up Higuain. Following the early goal, Vertonghen ventured into the Argentina half and his whipped crosses were Belgium’s best bet for an equaliser. 7

Marouane Fellaini Largely absent as the Belgium midfield didn’t capitalise on their man advantage. The Manchester United man did look to provide a presence in the box when the ball was worked out wide. The towering midfielder was lucky to escape a booking for a naught challenge on Messi. Headed over in the second half. 6

Axel Witsel Tasked with tracking Messi’s runs from midfield. Helped by Mirallas, Witsel did a reasonably good job, and on balance, was probably his nation’s best performer. Volleyed narrowly over the crossbar in injury-time. 7

Kevin Mirallas Should have been booked for a cynical dive. Handed just his second start of the tournament, Mirallas had little chance to turn and run at the Argentina defence. Superb movement to direct a bullet header just the wrong side of Romero’s post. 6

Kevin De Bruyne De Bruyne had Belgium’s first attempt after 13 minutes, but sliced well wide. Poor set-piece delivery. Improved his accuracy 12 minutes later, drawing a save from the Argentina goalkeeper. His crossing and passing was disappointing. 5

Eden Hazard Disappointing performance. Hazard struggled to have any impact and his frustrations were highlighted when the Chelsea man caught Biglia late and high. Earned a booking. Replaced with 15 minutes to go. 4

Divock Origi Started ahead of Lukaku for the second successive game. Presumably Marc Wilmots devised a plan to expose Demichelis’s lack of pace, but the Liverpool target had little chance to open his legs and run at the City man. 5

Substitutes

Dries Mertens Selfishly went for glory after Vertonghen won a free-kick in a dangerous area. 4

Romelu Lukaku Didn’t have much of a chance to impact the game as he was well-marshalled. When the ball did fall to the Chelsea striker in stoppage time, he was denied space to shoot by Demichelis and his resulting cross was cleared. 5

Nacer Chadli N/A

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