As expected, Iran spent much of the first half with ten men packed behind the ball. Argentina were unable to weave their way through such tight defending, and despite having the majority of possession, could only register two shots on target.
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Other key moments
4′: Iran waste a huge chance to take a surprise lead when Jalal Hosseini puts his header well wide
13′: Alireza Haghighi makes the first save of the game, blocking a strike from Gonzalo Higuaín
18′: The referee helping out Argentina by stealing the ball from an Iran player and gifting it to a blue-and-white shirt turns out to be the most exciting moment thus far
22′: Haghighi palms away a shot from Sergio Agüero
37′: A free kick from Lionel Messi falls kindly for Ezequiel Garay, but he puts his header over the bar
42′: Hosseini’s header from Ashkan Dejagah’s corner goes high, in a near-replica of Iran’s first chance of the game
Argentina : Romero; Zabaleta, Garay; Fede Fernández, Rojo; Gago, Mascherano, Di María; Messi, Higuaín, Agüero
Iran: Haghighi, Hosseini, Sadeghi, Montazeri, Pooladi, Shojaei, Nekounam, Teymourian, Dejagah, Ghoochannejhad, Hajsafi
Question for the second half
What can Argentina do to break through the mass of Iran shirts huddled in front of goal?
The patient buildup has yet to work for Alejandro Sabella’s side. Of course, they’re likely fine conserving energy and playing out a draw, but that’s not the Argentina we’ve all been hoping for. Sabella could bring on some fresh legs – Gonzalo Higuaín is looking a bit ragged and may be carrying an injury, but Ezequiel Lavezzi is available to take his place – in an attempt to change up both the tempo and the dynamic.