Argentina are through into the World Cup quarterfinals after a 1-0 victory over Switzerland. The game was deadlocked and seemed to be heading for a penalty shootout deep in extra time, only for Ángel di María to produce a winning goal in the 118th minute. Despite a late rally Switzerland couldn't equalise, and crashed out in devastating fashion. Argentina, meanwhile, will play either the United States or Belgium in the quarterfinals.
The tone for the match was set early on, with neither side looking particularly threatening going forward. Argentina saw more of the possession, though came up against a Swiss side intent on sitting deep and denying Lionel Messi any space to work his creative magic. The result was a lifeless, goalless game, two bored goalkeepers and millions of bored fans.
It took 28 minutes before Switzerland created the game's first meaningful chance, though Granit Xhaka's low effort was parried away by Sergio Romero. Argentina responded with a half-chance for Ezequiel Lavezzi in the box a minute later, though his scuffed shot was comfortably held by Diego Benaglio.
While Argentina grew increasingly frustrated with their lack of attacking bite, Switzerland were more than content to keep one of the most formidable attacks in the tournament quiet and hit them on the counter-attack. Their gameplan almost paid off five minutes before half time, though Josip Drmić chipped a defence-splitting Xherdan Shaqiri pass straight into the arms of a grateful Romero.
Argentina came out after the restart looking a little more threatening, though no attackers were on hand to capitalise on Marcos Rojo's numerous crosses into the Swiss penalty area. Rojo promptly took things into his own hands and fired a shot at goal just short of the hour, though Benaglio got down to palm the ball away.
The pace of the Albiceleste's play had certainly increased, and they started to push Switzerland further back towards their own goal. Messi almost opened the scoring with some individual brilliance with just over 20 minutes remaining, though his dipping effort narrowly cleared the Swiss crossbar. He went even closer minutes later, though his effort from the edge of the box was saved by the fingertips of Benaglio. The teams were inseparable, and for the fourth time in seven knockout games, extra time beckoned.
Argentina created the first chance after the resumption when Ezequiel Garay forced Benaglio into an excellent close-range save, though Switzerland looked increasingly confident as the clock ticked on. However, they didn't produce any end-product with their slick midfield passing, and were almost punished by a stinging effort from Ángel di María that required a tip over the crossbar.
It looked like a penalty shootout was imminent, until Argentina suddenly broke forward on the counter-attack with just three minutes of time remaining. Switzerland were caught out of position at the back, with Fabian Schär's rash challenge allowing Messi to slot di María through. With a cool finish the winger dispatched his attempt inside Benaglio's far post.
La Nati had three minutes of stoppage time in which to find an equaliser, and they came within inches through substitute Blerim Džemaili on a corner. The ball bounced low and against the post, before the Albiceleste finally averted the danger. By the skin of the teeth Alejandro Sabella's side reached the quarterfinals, while Switzerland are heading home.
Argentina: Romero; Rojo (Basanta 105+1'), Fernández, Garay, Zabaleta; di María, Mascherano, Gago (Biglia 106'); Lavezzi (Palacio 74'), Higuaín, Messi.
Goals: di María (118').
Switzerland: Benaglio; Lichtsteiner, Schär, Djourou, Rodríguez; Inler, Behrami; Mehmedi (Džemaili 113'), Shaqiri, Xhaka (Fernandes 66'); Drmić (Seferović 82').