00:05 IST: And that's the final whistle. Argentina have won 1-0 against Switzerland, thanks to Di Maria's extra-time goal. This is their third successive last-eight spot but the Swiss go back heart-broken after they came so close to reaching their first quarters in 60 years.
00:04 IST: Shaqiri took a free-kick from a dangerous position for the Swiss but he fails to score, hitting the defensive wall of the Argentinians.\
00:00 IST: Blerim Dzemaili came tantalizingly close to draw level for the Swiss but he misses!!
23:58 IST: GOAL! Angel Di Maria scores in the 118th minute as Argentina go ahead in the dying stages of the second period of extra-time. Argentina are 1-0 ahead against the Swiss.
23:52 IST: Barring moments of brilliance from Messi and the two goalkeepers, the standard of the football has not always been World Cup standard; but the game could nevertheless head for a fascinating finish. Both goalies have been brilliant today and could play key roles in the penalty shootout.
23:42 IST: The fist period of extra-time is over and it's still 0-0 between Argentina and Switzerland .
23:32 IST: The Messi threat is still hovering over the Swiss but their defenders have somehow managed to keep him at bay, but for how long can they do that? Half-way into the first extra-time and the deadlock has not been broken. Barring Messi, none of the Argentine strikers have looked really up to it.
23:36 IST: As extra-time gets underway, Swiss tennis great Roger Federer admits he is having some nervous moments. He's keeping a close watch on proceedings all the way from London, where he is appearing at Wimbledon.
23:19 IST: After three minutes of added time, Argentina and Switzerland are 0-0. The game moves to extra-time.
23:16 IST: This has been a spectacular tale of resilence and aggression. Messi charged in in the 89th minute, only to be yet again destroyed in his run by the gutsy Swiss defence. As if that were not enough, Rojo got a yellow card for his foul and he will now miss the next match if Argentina do qualify for the quarters.
23:12 IST: All of Argentina's constant attacking moves have counted for nothing over the last 15 minutes. The full time is almost drawing to a close. Still 0-0.
23:06 IST: With less than 10 minutes left in the game, Messi is looking increasingly dangerous but the Swiss have been resilient in their defence. They are holding on and seem to be putting their bet on an extra-time miracle.
22:57 IST: With time running out fast, Argentina have looked desperate; they have certainly been the better team for the major part of the second half. If this game goes to extra-time, it could be anybody's game and the two-time world champions would like to finish it off before that.
22:53 IST: Argentina are on the offensive as soon after Higuain, Messi charged in with his first shot at goal in the 68th minute, but the ball sailed past the post. Still 0-0.
22:48 IST: Higuain came ever so close to take Argentina into the lead but Benaglio made another sensational save as the score remained 0-0.
22:42 IST: Messi has been marked by the Swiss, who have not given the star striker any space to explode. But he is a magician and has the skills to break through anytime. But normal time is quickly running out. 57 minutes gone.
22:35 IST: The deadlock continues in the second half as both sides toil to score the opener. By the way, Jonas Eriksson, the referee officiating today, is a millionaire and is there for the love of the game. What a dream-come-true for any football lover. Eriksson is living a dream.
22:16 IST: No added minutes as Argentina and Switzerland go to half-time goalless.
22:09 IST: Wasted chance for Switzerland as Josip Drmic failed to score despite being in a great position; but to be fair to him, he did not have any support his cavalry.
22:06 IST: Granit Xhaka of Switzerland is booked after fouling an opponent.
22:00 IST: Finally, some excitement into the game after 28 minutes as Xhaka's shot was brilliantly saved by Argentina goalie Sergio Romero before the rebound reached reached Behrami, who was again thwarted. A minute later Lavezzi found how solid the Swiss goalie was. The game is moving fast now.
21:55 IST: Di Maria was brought down in the 24th minute by a Swiss defender and Argentina were awarded a free-kick; but the missed another chance to open up as Zabaleta headed Messi's shot over the goal-post. Still 0-0.
21:49 IST: Twenty minutes up and it has been another slow start for Argentina; like against Bosnia and Iran, Argentina have looked uncertain early on once again. Messi did threaten to break the deadlock seven minutes back but it looks like another patchy passage of play. Neither side has been willing to take the risk yet.
21:44 IST: The game has seen some interesting moments already. With Argentina enjoying more possession, the Swiss have not been scared to attack and test Argentina's brittle defence. In the 8th minute, Shaqiri penetrated Argentina's defence but he failed to create more than a ripple. Five minutes later, Messi tried to catch the Swiss defence napping but Benaglio was alert at the goal and held on to Messi's kick.
21:32 IST: Argentina's fans have far outnumbered the Swiss. Can Messi inspires his side to their third World Cup title? The thousands, who have gathered to witness the last-16 clash seem to think so.
21:30 IST: National anthems done; it's kick-off time between Argentina, who are looking for a hat-trick of quarterfinals while Switzerland seek their first last-8 berth in 60 years.
21:21 IST: So here are Argentina, with the chance of making their third successive World Cup quarterfinals. Up against Switzerland, the South Americans will be wary of their indifferent form throughout the tournament; they have had to rely on Messi's scoring abilities to wriggle out of tricky situations. The Swiss could pose a serious threat and it will be up to Messi again to deliver, especially in the absence of the injured Aguero.
Argentina vs Switzerland Factoid
- Argentina are unbeaten in their last 16 out of 17 matches in FIFA World Cup.
- Switzerland have won five out of their last six fixtures in FIFA World Cup.
- Argentina have won the only time they have played against Switzerland in a FIFA World Cup. In overall head-to-head, Argentina have won four out of six fixtures while the other two games have ended in draws.
Road to FIFA World Cup Pre-Quarters
Argentina: Beat Bosnia (2-1), Beat Iran (1-0), Beat Nigeria (3-2)
Switzerland: Beat Ecuador (2-1), Lost to France (2-5), Beat Honduras (3-0)
Spotlight on Messi as Argentina take on Switzerland
Lionel Messi's goals have fired Argentina into the World Cup last 16 but they will look for a better all-round performance when they meet Switzerland Tuesday.
The diminutive four-time player of the year has finally sparked for his country, hitting four of their six goals as Argentina qualified top of Group F.
But Argentina needed Messi's late winner to overcome Iran 1-0 and they also shipped two goals before beating Nigeria 3-2, lowering expectations of a third world title.
They will face their toughest opponents yet in Switzerland, who put seven goals past group opponents Ecuador, France and Honduras, including three from Xherdan Shaqiri.
We can stop Messi, Says Swiss Coach
Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld on Monday said he planned to stop Argentinian star Lionel Messi at the World Cup and prolong his glittering career in his last tournament before retiring.
The former Bayern Munich boss said he would demonstrate how to neutralise the Argentine genius, who has plundered four goals in three games so far in Brazil, in the last 16.
And the German, who has promised to quit football after the World Cup, added that he was not approaching Tuesday's showdown with the thought that it may be his last game.
"How to stop Messi? We'll show you tomorrow how we do it," Hitzfeld told reporters at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo.
Amazing Messi is our Maradona: Argentina Manager
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella Monday hailed Lionel Messi's "amazing" World Cup form and compared him to Diego Maradona during the team's title run in 1986.
Sabella said he never had any doubts that Messi, who has not always produced his best at international level, would star at the tournament.
The four-time world player of the year, aged 27, has hit four of Argentina's six goals en route to Tuesday's last 16 knock-out game against Switzerland in Sao Paulo.