Argentina found things difficult, admits Zabaleta

Argentina defender Pablo Zabaleta has admitted that his side struggled as they edged past Iran to secure their place in the second round of the World Cup, has reported.

Alejandro Sabella’s side were unable to break down a stubborn and organised Iranian defence for 90 minutes, and the outsiders had chances, with Ashkan Dejagah and Reza Ghoochannejhad both seeing efforts saved by goalkeeper Sergio Romero. Dejagah was also denied what looked a reasonable penalty shout against Zabaleta.

However, Lionel Messi came up with the winner in the first minute of stoppage time at the end of the game, curling a superb shot into the far corner of the net to send his side through. After the match in Belo Horizonte, a relieved Zabaleta said: “It was a difficult game and we knew it would be because Iran defended with practically 11 players behind the ball.

“It was difficult to find spaces and they had two or three chances on the counter as well. That can happen because when we have the ball we try to attack quickly and in numbers – and sometimes that means we leave too many spaces at the back.”

“When you have a player of Leo’s quality who can pop up and be decisive, you always have a chance. We enjoy having the best player in the world and we know that he’ll be there for us in a lot of situations when we need him, like today.”

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