Argentina 1, Iran 0.
It was a horrible game to watch. Iran came with a simple plan and played it well; wall defence from the first minute, all players behind the ball, defend hard and well, look for a counter-attack. Meanwhile, Argentina probed and pushed for 90 minutes, played well enough but often lacked the precision pass that would unlock the Iran ploy and the game in general. Argentina’s goalkeeper Sergio Romero had to be alert too and made a couple of excellent saves after Iran counters.
As a spectacle it was frustrating and nerve-wracking, while at the same time admiration grew large for an Iran that deserves total respect for the way they played (and relatively cleanly with good sportsmanship, too). Then this happened:
Good teams will sometimes play badly. The best teams will sometimes play badly but also have a world-class player that digs them out of a hole.
It’s not just football of course; a Michael Jordan clutch shot at the buzzer anyone? However and remaining on-topic, Lionel Messi has now scored two goals of supreme class in Brazil 2014, both in games where neither him nor his team played at their optimum. It’s moments like the above that separate the good, the very good and the pinnacle best.