Di Maria sends Argentina through in tense finale

Tue Jul 1, 2014 4:24pm EDT
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By Brian Homewood

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Argentina took 118 minutes to break down stubborn Switzerland then survived an extraordinary, heart-stopping finale before reaching the World Cup quarter-finals after a dramatic 1-0 win on Tuesday.

With penalties looming, Angel Di Maria stroked the ball home from the edge of penalty area to put the finishing touch to a trademark Lionel Messi run, sparking wild celebrations among the South Americans and their fans in Sao Paulo.

There was still time for Swiss substitute Blerim Dzemaili to head the ball against the post from point-blank range and his team mate Xherdan Shaqiri to send a free kick straight into the Argentina wall amid unbearable tension.

"Football is brutal, brutal, brutal. Unfortunately, we didn't quite have enough strength at the end to get through extra time," said Switzerland's assistant coach Michel Pont.

Argentina face either Belgium or the United States, who were meeting in the final second round clash later on Tuesday (2000 GMT), in their quarter-final in Brasilia on Saturday (1600 GMT).

Off the field, Cameroon's football federation (FECAFOOT) said they would investigate claims that seven of their players were involved in match-fixing at the World Cup, centered on the 4-0 defeat by Croatia when Alex Song sent off in the first half.

“Recent allegations of fraud around Cameroon’s three 2014 World Cup games, especially Cameroon v Croatia, as well the existence of “seven bad apples (in our national team)” do not reflect the values and principles promoted by our administration," FECAFOOT said in a statement.

The allegations against Cameroon came from convicted fraudster Wilson Raj Perumal, who had accurately forecast the result and the fact that a player would be sent off during a discussion with German magazine Der Spiegel.   Continued...

Argentina's Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria (7) and Lucas Biglia (C) celebrate after extra time in the 2014 World Cup round of 16 game between Argentina and Switzerland at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo July 1, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh