Argentina entered their final group stage match against Costa Rica facing an unbelievable amount of pressure. If being hosts and favorites don't put enough pressure on a team, Argentina were dealing with rumors of infighting and after draws in their first two matches, they were facing elimination in the group stage. Such a shocking elimination might actually cause rioting in the country so the Argentina team had the weight of their world on their shoulders and they played like it. They dominated Costa Rica, only to fail when it came to finishing. That is until Sergio Aguero scored just before half to put Argentina in front, 1-0, at halftime.
The two disappointing draws forced Argentina to make changes to their team with four new faces coming into the starting XI, Aguero being one of them. The changes did not include Sergio Pastore getting a start, something that left manager Sergio Batista vulnerable to plenty of criticism if Argentina did not advance.
From the very beginning Argentina were the better team. They got the ball to Lionel Messi every chance they could and he was sensational. He danced his way around the Costa Rica defense and put teammate after teammate in position to score. Unfortunately, he teammates let him down time and time again. One chance hit the post, several others didn't even come close to hitting the frame. For all of their better play and the brilliance of the world's best player, Argentina looked set to go into halftime without anything to show for it.
That changed on the last play of the half when Fernando Gago ripped a shot from distance. It took a deflection on the way in and with the goalkeeper already committed to diving at the initial shot, the ball went off of his legs and into the path of Aguero. The Atletico madrid striker had no problem finishing into the empty net, causing the entire stadium to explode in celebrations. The Ticos turned to the assistant referee asking for offiside, but replays showed Aguero to be even with the last defender and the goal a good one.