Jul 5, 2014 at 5pm UK at ​Estadio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasilia
Argentina
1-0
Belgium
Higuain (8')
Biglia (75')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Hazard (53'), Alderweireld (68')

Match Analysis: Argentina 1-0 Belgium

Gonzalo Higuain of Argentina scores his team's first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Quarter Final match against Belgium on July 5, 2014
© Getty Images
Sports Mole analyses the World Cup quarter-final clash between Argentina and Belgium.

Argentina have progressed through to the semi-finals of the World Cup finals with a 1-0 victory over Belgium.

Striker Gonzalo Higuain netted the decisive goal after just eight minutes when he fired an instinctive effort from 14 yards into the bottom corner of Thibaut Courtois's net.

Below, Sports Mole assesses whether Argentina deserved to progress from this last-eight clash.

Match statistics

Argentina
Shots: 10
On target: 2
Possession: 46%
Corners: 3
Fouls: 11

Belgium
Shots: 10
On target: 1
Possession: 54%
Corners: 4
Fouls: 14

Was the result fair?

This match was expected to be an end-to-end affair between two sides whose strengths could be found in attack, but it was the defensive play of Argentina that ensured that they deservedly won this game. They never allowed Belgium to get settled into the quarter-final, and it resulted in their opponents failing to create any clear-cut opportunities. The match was won through a bit of magic from Higuain, but the foundations of the win were created at the back.

Argentina's performance

During this World Cup, we have witnessed the two sides of Argentina, but against Belgium, they found the balance that could win them the World Cup. Their more reserved approach limited their attacking capabilities, but it quickly deflated a Belgium side that have been given the space to play their passing game in the earlier rounds. The partnership of Ezequiel Garay and Martin Demichelis was barely tested, while Javier Mascherano proved that he is still one of the best operators in his position. Higuain will take the credit for the goal, but there was more to this Argentina display than one bit of magic.

Belgium's performance

Belgium were heavily fancied to cause a surprise against Argentina this evening, but Marc Wilmots's team never came close to finding top gear against Alejandro Sabella's outfit. Too many of their stars failed to perform, including Eden Hazard who barely had a kick. It's been a positive campaign for the Red Devils, but this was the wake-up call that they might need to fulfil their undoubted potential.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Javier Mascherano: This was a straight choice between Higuain and Mascherano, but it's the holding midfielder who takes the honours. While Higuain's goal ultimately won this encounter, it was the contribution of Mascherano in the middle of the park that proved crucial in keeping Belgium's chances down to a minimum. The Barcelona man's style of play isn't the prettiest, but it's effective and he was pivotal in his team keeping a clean sheet this evening.

Biggest gaffe

The biggest gaffe of the fixture didn't come on the pitch, but in the changing rooms beforehand. Wilmots showed an incredible amount of faith in Divock Origi by starting him in a World Cup quarter-final but it soon became apparent that the Lille striker was out of his depth against Garay and Demichelis. The 19-year-old was replaced before the hour, but the damage had already been done.

Referee performance

Nicola Rizzoli became slightly whistle-happy as the match progressed, but he can be satisfied with his night's work. He was perhaps lenient with a couple of late challenges during the second half, but he didn't have an impact on the outcome of the match.

What next?

Argentina: Argentina must wait to find out whether they will play the Netherlands or Costa Rica in the semi-finals, but on this display, they will be confident of nullifying either attack.

Belgium: Belgium have recorded their best performance at a World Cup finals since 1986, but they will be disappointed to be going home at this stage of the competition. However, they will be stronger for the experience and will go into Euro 2016 as one of the favourites.

Divock Origi of Belgium celebrates scoring his team's first goal with Eden Hazard during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group H match on June 22, 2014
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