Lionel Messi has taken Argentina to a place it hasn't been since Diego Maradona was wearing the team's No. 10 shirt: The World Cup semifinals.
Argentina defeated Belgium 1-0 in the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals at Nacional in Brasilia on Saturday. With the victory, La Albiceleste advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1990. In Messi's two previous World Cup appearances, his teams had been sent home by Germany in the quarterfinals.
The lone goal of the match came in the eighth minute when Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain, previously scoreless in Brazil, turned a deflected pass beyond Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with a stunning right-footed shot. The scoring surge began, predictably, with Messi. Argentina's 27-year-old talisman began the scoring sequence after receiving a pass just into Belgium's half of the field. He pirouetted around two defenders as he moved the ball upfield. With the defense focused on his every move, Messi passed the ball to teammate Angel di Maria, stationed wide to his right. Di Maria, who scored the decisive goal against Switzerland in the Round of 16 after receiving a pass from Messi, attempted a through ball for Pablo Zabaleta. The pass was blocked by Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen but dropped for Higuain at the top of the penalty area.
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 5, 2014
Argentina will face either Costa Rica or the Netherlands on Wednesday, July 9 at Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.