Argentina vs. Belgium: Final score 1-0, Higuaín sends Albiceleste into semifinals

Argentina are into the World Cup semifinals after a narrow victory over a disappointing Belgium.

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Bracket'

Argentina are through into the World Cup semifinals after a 1-0 victory over Belgium in Brasília. The Albiceleste broke the deadlock early on, and managed to withstand everything the ever-impotent Red Devils threw at them. The Albiceleste will play either the Netherlands or Costa Rica in the next round, while a disappointing Belgium are heading home.

It took less than eight minutes for Argentina to net the game's only goal, with Gonzalo Higuaín lashing an excellent volley inside Thibaut Courtois' far post. Though there was a hint of good fortune as the ball initially deflected into his path, the perfect finish was all skill.

Belgium struggled to react to going a goal behind, with Argentina successfully keeping the Red Devils quiet with intense pressure inside their own half. It took 26 minutes before Belgium finally forced a save from Sergio Romero, who parried Kevin De Bruyne's speculative effort to safety.

Argentina continued to look threatening on the counter-attack, with Lionel Messi and Ángel di María at the heart of all of their quick breaks. However, they lost the latter to a thigh injury just past the half-hour, just as Belgium began to look a little more dangerous in possession. The Red Devils produced their best chance of the half in the 42nd minute, though Kevin Mirallas headed Jan Vertonghen's cross just wide.

The second half kicked off with Argentina in the ascendency once more. Higuaín saw a low drive deflected narrowly wide by Daniel Van Buyten, before a lethal cross from Ezequiel Lavezzi flashed dangerously across the face of Courtois' goal. Fortunately for Belgium, no attackers were on hand to turn it in.

They had an even closer escape again minutes later, when a mazy dribble from the impressive Higuaín saw him face-to-face with the Belgian goalkeeper. However, Higuaín's finish didn't match the run, and his shot clipped the crossbar before going over. Belgium looked rattled, and struggled to get back into the game.

The Red Devils' coach Marc Wilmots responded by throwing on attackers Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens, and within a minute they'd created their first chance of the half. Once again it originated on a deep cross from Vertonghen, though Marouane Fellaini's powerful header cleared the bar.

Despite their late possession, Belgium failed to find an equalising goal, and would've conceded a late second if not for a great save by Courtois on Messi. The Red Devils' final chance fell to Axel Witsel in stoppage time, though his effort from distance cleared the crossbar.

Argentina: Romero; Basanta, Garay, Demichelis, Zabaleta; Biglia, Mascherano, di Maria (Pérez 33'); Lavezzi (Palacio 71'), Higuaín (Gago 81'), Messi

Goals: Higuaín (8')

Belgium: Courtois; Vertonghen, Kompany, Van Buyten, Alderweireld; Witsel, Fellaini; Hazard (Chadli 75'), De Bruyne, Mirallas (Mertens 60'); Origi (Lukaku 59')

Goals: None

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