Argentina beat Belgium to reach first semi since 1990

BRASILIA Sat Jul 5, 2014 11:25pm IST

Argentina's Lionel Messi (10) fights for the ball with Belgium's Daniel Van Buyten (L) and Dries Mertens during their 2014 World Cup quarter-finals at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia July 5, 2014. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Argentina's Lionel Messi (10) fights for the ball with Belgium's Daniel Van Buyten (L) and Dries Mertens during their 2014 World Cup quarter-finals at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia July 5, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Damir Sagolj

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Argentina reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 24 years on Saturday when an early goal by Gonzalo Higuain and a strong defensive display proved enough to beat a disappointing Belgium side 1-0.

Lionel Messi's close control and a fortunate deflection opened the way for Higuain to shoot home the only goal after eight minutes, and the striker should have added a second early in the second half when he grazed the bar after a driving run.

Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini went close with headers as Belgium tried to force their way back into the game but with key midfielder Eden Hazard anonymous they never really looked like doing so against a well-drilled and hard-working Argentina.

In their first semi-final since 1990, when they went on to lose to West Germany in the final, Argentina will play either Costa Rica or the Netherlands, who meet in the last quarter-final later on Saturday.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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