Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has admitted that his side struggled against Iran’s counter-attacks but was rescued by their “decisive” captain Lionel Messi.

Alejandro Sabella was full of praise for his captain, saying that “anything is possible” with Lionel Messi.

The Albiceleste were perhaps lucky to beat Iran 1-0 with a stoppage-time goal from the maestro in Belo Horizonte. Carlos Quiroz’s men defended deep and did not give any chances to Messi and co.  Iran also had three good chances of their own.

This victory secures Argentina’s place in the second round of the World Cup, but Sabella admitted it was a difficult match for his side.

“All players who played today have contributed to this victory but of course we have a genius who is called Messi,” Sabella said in a press conference after the match. “Fortunately he is Argentine. Everybody would have liked to have Messi but it is us who have him.”

Argentina boss Sabella praised his Iranian counterparts as well. “I want to congratulate my team. It was a huge effort and it’s a very hot time of the day. Iran were brilliant as well. Both goalkeepers were excellent but that last strike by Lionel, not even two goalkeepers could have stopped that goal.”

Sabella said that the strategy of Iran was impressive and they were unfortunate not to score any goal. “Messi, I think, has been well marked. Iran had many players on him – they waited for us and they marked Messi all the time. They were fighting, they were very patient, they kept trying and they looked for goals as well. And they had two very good opportunities during the second half. Messi had to keep fighting though and in the end he got his reward.”

Late winner against Iran was a ‘Wonderful Moment’: Messi

Messi scored a brilliant injury time winner to rescue Argentina and the FC Barcelona star feels that it was a ‘wonderful moment’.

“As soon as I got the ball at the end we were all in attack because we wanted to put Argentina through with a win,” Messi was speaking to media after the game. “Obviously I was very happy with the strike and then I heard people screaming and smiling.

Like his coach, Messi too had praise for Iran. “[Iran] were able to close us down at the back and it was very difficult to find space. It was very hot too. But we still had many opportunities in the first half; they had some in the second half too.” Messi said that he is happy now as the primary target of qualifying for the next round has been achieved. “Now we’re qualified for the next round and that was our objective today.”