Belo Horizonte (Brazil), Jun 22 (PTI): Lionel Messi’s magical left-footed strike got Argentina out of the rut against a combative Iran while veteran German striker Miroslav Klose walked into the World Cup ‘Hall of Fame’ with record-equalling 15th goal bringing him at par with Ronaldo.
In third and final match yesterday, Nigeria posted their first win in World Cup in 16 years getting better of Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0.
Forward Odemwingie scored for the Super Eagles as they remained in the hunt for a place in the knock-out stages while Bosnia and Herzegovina are already out of the champipnship.
It was Messi whose piece of invidual brilliance in the dying moments ensured a 1-0 win and big step towards qualifying for the knock-out stage for Argentina.
For Klose, who was benched in Germany’s 4-0 rout of Portugal, his opportunistic tap brought about the equaliser as the Bavarian army played out an entertaining 2-2 draw against a spirited Ghana side.
All four goals came in the second half with Mario Goetze and Klose scoring for Germany as Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan scored for the ‘Black Stars’.
In the Argentina vs Iran match, one saw some dogged defending on the part of the Iranians who nearly snatched a point with their spirited display before Messi’s curling in-step left-footer beat custodian Alireza Haghighi, who otherwise had a splendid match.
Iran predictably employed the ultra-defensive tactic by keeping atleast seven players in their own defensive third which frustrated the Argentine forwards Gonazalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero even though the South American side enjoyed 75 percent of the ball possession.
Messi operating from the attacking hole was always under double covering which kept him quiet save a few dead ball situations. His curling direct free-kick in the 32nd minute went over the horizontal.
The first time that Messi really could threaten was at the stroke of an hour when he sprinted down the middle and his left-footed placement using the instep was atleast a foot away from the near post.
He took a number of corner kicks and free-kicks but much to the dismay of the partisan fans failed to get the winner.
Whenever Messi had the ball in possession, there was a trail of red-shirts following him. Defensive midfielder Andranik Timotian should be credited for keeping Messi quiet playing the role of a spoiler in the middle third.
With Diego Maradona watching from the stands, the ‘Alibiceleste’ couldn’t effectively decode the chink in the Iran defence in the first 45 minutes.
In the Germany’s game against Ghana, the hero certainly was Klose whp scored a goal within two minutes of his arrival on the pitch. The goal was also important since Germany were trailing 1-2 at that point of time after Asamoah has fired the second goal for Ghana.
Ronaldo was among the first to congratulate the 36-year-old Lazio striker.
“Welcome to the club Klose, you must be happy!!!! What a beautiful cup!!!” Ronaldo wrote on his Twitter page.
“It doesn’t matter whether I play from the start or come off the bench: all games are important and 15 goals in 20 World Cup games isn’t bad,” Klose said on his part.
The veteran striker was the top-scorer at the 2006 World Cup in Germany with five goals, having finished second with another five at the 2002 tournament. He also scored four in South Africa four years ago.
Klose became Germany’s all-time top-scorer prior to the finals when he scored his 69th goal in his 132nd appearance in a 6-1 thrashing of Armenia in a friendly.
He bettered the record set by Gerd Mueller, who scored the winner in the 1974 World Cup final, to claim what was then his 68th goal in 62 appearances for the erstwhile West Germany.
In the final match of the evening, it was Emmanuel Emineke, who always looked a threat and it was he who created the goal, as he burst down the right and engaged in a race for the ball with veteran Bosnian skipper Emir Spahic, who tried vainly to obstruct the Nigerian.
However, the central defender had completely misjudged the situation as Emineke went the opposite side and outpaced him to collect the ball before unselfishly squaring it to Peter Odemwingie, with the Stoke City striker tucking the ball away.