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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup Player of the Day: When Messi's technical brilliance pierced Iran's defence

World Cup Player of the Day: When Messi's technical brilliance pierced Iran's defence

June 22, 2014 14:25 IST

World Cup Player of the Day: When Messi's technical brilliance pierced Iran's defence

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Individual genius triumphed over collective organisation as Lionel Messi’s magnificent stoppage time goal for Argentina cruelly left Iran with nothing after an outstanding defensive display from Carlos Queiroz’s team.

- PHOTOS: Messi magic sends Argentina through to last 16

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For 90 minutes the Iranians had held firm against one of the tournament favourites and nullified one of the world’s finest players with a superbly disciplined performance.

But the truly great deliver when their teams need it the most and with one of the surprise results of this World Cup just moments away, Messi took advantage of just enough space to curl a beautiful left-foot shot into the top corner and put his team into the last 16.

It was hard not to feel sympathy for the Iranian players who slumped to the floor at the final whistle, despairing that their concentration and exertion had come to nothing.

There was just over two minutes of stoppage time remaining before they would have become national heroes and earned the justified respect of the football world.


Image: Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates scoring his team's first goal against Iran on Saturday
Photographs: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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'The inspiration of the truly gifted individual is so often what wins matches'

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At the same time though, Messi had provided a reminder of one of football’s basic truths -- that while coaches can devise tactics and systems, the inspiration of the truly gifted individual is so often what wins matches.

Four-times world player of the year Messi was double-marked throughout and Iran’s midfield acted as a second line of defence with captain Javad Nekounam marshalling the operation and leading by example with his firm challenges and astute positioning.

The goalless draw is often raised by critics of the game as a supposed weakness in the sport but Iran's defending -- with honesty and without cynicism or excessive foul play, made for a fascinating encounter.

But it was Messi, who just as against Bosnia in the opening game had been subdued for most of the game before scoring, who made the difference.

And as so often, he did so with a technical brilliance that, no matter how many times it is produced, continues to astound. 


Image: Andranik Teymourian of Iran (left) challenges Lionel Messi
Photographs: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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