By CASSIDY GABRIEL
With a calm and collected first-half finish, Gonzalo Higuaín earned Argentina a narrow quarterfinal victory over Belgium to reserve his side’s spot in the semifinal round. After both teams endured taxing 120-minute matches earlier this week in the Round of 16, the Argentines, buoyed by Higuaín, came out on top today and ended hopes of advancing for Belgium’s Red Devils.
Merely eight minutes after kickoff, Higuaín made perfect contact with a ball initially sent from teammate Ángel Di María, after it took a heavy deflection. The striker wrong-footed Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois with his well-placed effort and propelled the Argentines into an early lead. Under high expectations to get involved after some quieter performances, the striker delivered spectacularly with his winning finish. Higuaín continued to be a threat as the match evolved, finding his way around the Belgian defense once more with a 55th minute effort that deflected off of the crossbar.
Despite relentless efforts to equalize from the Belgian offense, Higuaín’s early finish was enough to retain Argentina’s lead until full time. Argentina is now set to meet the winner of this afternoon’s final quarterfinal match, between Netherlands and Costa Rica, in the semifinal round.
Higuaín’s smart finish and ultimate match-winner earned him the honors of SBI Man of the Match. He narrowly claimed the award over the superb defensive performances of his teammates Javier Mascherano and Ezequiel Garay, and Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen.
Who was your Man of the Match? What did you think of Higuaín’s match-winning goal?
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