Gonzalo Higuain’s first goal of this World Cup sent Argentina into the semifinals on Saturday with a 1-0 win over a disappointing Belgium.
The Napoli striker fired home Angel Di Maria’s deflected pass just inside the area, beating Belgium goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, with a low shot to the far corner of the goal as he turned.
“Since the first game of this World Cup I said I was calm, that the goals would come. It came and at an important moment,” Higuain said. “It’s been so many years since we made it to the semifinals. Now we did.”
Higuain came close to making it 2-0 in the second half when his shot smashed into the crossbar.
Lionel Messi missed a chance to score his fifth goal of the tournament when he failed to beat Courtois on a counterattack in stoppage time.
Belgium lacked the creativity to find a way past Argentina’s disciplined defence and created few clear chances apart from a pair of headers by Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini.
Belgium’s most creative player, Eden Hazard, had little impact on the game beyond receiving a yellow card for a studs-first challenge on Lucas Biglia.
Hazard cut a disconsolate figure as he was substituted by Nacer Chadli in the 75th.
Argentina’s next opponent will be the winner of the last quarterfinal between the Netherlands and Costa Rica, who were playing later Saturday in Salvador.
Argentina has won every match in Brazil by a single goal.
But unlike in previous games, the Albiceleste played solidly over 90 minutes in Brasilia, frustrating the Belgians with a near-flawless defence, bolstered by strong performances from central midfielders, Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia.