TOPIC: e best chances. Granit Xhaka pushed Sergio Romer
1 month 2 weeks ago #2204946
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Argentinas theme at this World Cup seems to be scrappy wins with Lionel Messi pulling through at the last minute to save the day. This time he didnt score on his own, but set the stage for Angel Di Maria to score an extra-time winner against Switzerland. "It doesnt matter if its beautiful or ugly," Di Maria said. "Only that Argentina won and will play another game in the tournament." Argentina will play Belgium in the quarterfinals. Except for its final group-stage win over Nigeria, Argentina has won its matches in Brazil in the same manner -- grinding down its opponents rather than dazzling them with brilliant football. In the first half Tuesday, Argentina struggled to find paths through Switzerlands five-man midfield, and it was the Swiss that produced the best chances. Granit Xhaka pushed Sergio Romero to a great save and Josip Drmic spoiled a great opportunity when he tried to chip the ball over the Argentina goalkeeper. When cracks started opening in the defence in the second half, goalkeeper Diego Benaglio kept Switzerland in the game, stopping Gonzalo Higuains header and Messis low shot in the 78th minute. Benaglio also saved a powerful attempt by Di Maria in extra time, and it looked like the Swiss would be able to push the game into a penalty shootout. Then, in the 118th, Rodrigo Palacio won the ball in midfield and fed Messi, who dribbled down the middle in trademark fashion, escaping a challenge from Swiss defender Fabian Schaer before poking the ball to Di Maria. Unmarked, the Real Madrid player beat Benaglio with his 10th goal in Argentinas colours. "Whats important is that we moved on to the next stage," said Messi, who has scored four of Argentinas seven goals, including an injury-time winner against Iran. "It was difficult. We knew it was going to be a hard match." Swiss substitute Blerim Dzemaili nearly equalized right before the end but his header hit the post, and the rebound bounced off his knee and wide of the goal. Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, whose brother died at age 81 one the eve of the match, said his team leaves the tournament with "our heads high." "We made life very tough for them," he said. "They managed to keep their cool. It shows Argentina has a good team." Hitzfeld said it was his last match as a football coach. He had earlier said he would quit after the tournament. His Argentine counterpart, Alejandro Sabella, said he thought his team played a "wonderful match," though he conceded theres room for improvement. "It was a match that we deserved to win," said Sabella. "The first half was very even. They had two clear chances and after that the match was ours." Argentina will play its next match without left back Marcos Rojo, who is suspended after receiving his second yellow card on Tuesday.
Lineups: Argentina: Sergio Romero; Pablo Zabaleta, Federico Fernandez, Ezequiel Garay, Marcos Rojo (Jose Maria Basanta, 105); Fernando Gago (Lucas Biglia, 106), Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria; Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Ezequiel Lavezzi (Rodrigo Palacio, 74). Switzerland: Diego Benaglio; Stephan Lichtsteiner, Johan Djourou, Fabian Schaer, Ricardo Rodriquez; Xherdan Shaqiri, Gokhan Inler, Granit Xhaka (Gelson Fernandes, 66), Valon Behrami, Admir Mehmedi (Blerim Dzemaili, 113); Josip Drmic (Haris Seferovic, 82). Ashley Williams Jersey . Right-hander Todd Redmond took the loss. Jose Bautista hit his second home run of the spring. Here are a handful of tidbits from around camp: Hutchison impressive The Blue Jays are being cautious when talking about their young arms but internally, excitement is building over the way Drew Hutchison is looking and performing this spring. Blank Jersey .Y. - Geno Smith shouted a couple of mighty expensive expletives. www.soccerwalesshop.com/joe-allen-wales-UEFA-EURO-jersey/.com) - John Wall supplied 24 points and 11 assists in leading the Washington Wizards to a 102-91 win over the New York Knicks on Christmas Day. Wales Jerseys . The 28-year-old from Rochester, Alta., was selected by the Redblacks from the Saskatchewan Roughriders roster in the 2013 CFL Expansion Draft. Joe Ledley Jersey . The CFL will help tackle womens cancers by playing four special "CFL PINK" games this weekend.BALTIMORE – The Blue Jays entered play Sunday with a team batting average of .209, a team on-base percentage of .283 and a team on-base plus slugging percentage of .643. Make what you will of a small sample size, the market will surely correct itself, but slugger Jose Bautista acknowledges that change must come soon and he identifies one stat in particular: the teams .157 batting average with runners in scoring position, entering Sundays game. "I think, obviously, you can not necessarily get on base a whole lot and not out-hit the other team but if you get the timely hits when you need them, youre still going to win as long as youre getting good pitching and defence, which we have been getting," Bautista told TSN.ca on Sunday morning. Bautista points the finger at himself. Through a dozen games, hes been up nine times with runners in scoring position. He has one hit, a home run, two RBI, has walked three times and struck out on three occasions. "Ive gotten my fair chances of driving in runs in different situations and I havent been able to come through so Ive got to focus a little bit better, I think, and just figure out a way to execute no matter what the circumstances are," he said. While Bautista is willing to first look at himself, which is admirable, its difficult to point the finger at him. While his batting average was only .200 entering Sunday, his on-base percentage of .451 (attributable to his major league-leading 16 walks) and slugging percentage of .571 (four of his seven hits have been home runs) constitutes significant production in a dry lineup. The problem is Bautistas getting on base and nobodys taking advantage of it. Hes scored only six times so far on plays that arent a result of his home runs. The main culprit is Edwin Encarnacion, who entered Sunday with a .174/.240/.261 slash line, no home runs and he was still looking for his first RBBI.dddddddddddd. The consensus on Encarnacion is that its merely a timing issue. Hes not been a slow starter in either 2012 or 2013, his two breakout years, hitting eight and nine home runs, respectively, in the opening month of those seasons. "I dont know if he feels that way but it certainly seems that way from my perspective where he just hasnt found his rhythm yet," said Bautista of Encarnacion. "That being coupled with the way they pitch to us, being so different and so difficult, its easy to kind of get back into rhythm when you see a 2-0 fastball and you can place your bet on that but he doesnt see that very often." Bautista wonders if, maybe, theres something about the way Encarnacion is being pitched. Encarnacion, with two straight big seasons, now is an established superstar. Its similar to what Bautista went through a couple of years ago. "I saw a huge difference after 2011," said Bautista. "Not so much after 2012 but after 2011 it was just a night and day difference on how people were pitching to me. The amount of breaking balls in hitters counts and Ive seen pitches in hitters counts, first pitches, even in 3-0 counts, I was seeing some stuff that Im like, Im not even swinging and Im getting sliders and changeups." The great hitters learn to be patient. They have to be. "Can you lay off of those borderline and bad pitches consistently?" said Bautista of the question that plagues the games elite hitters. Toronto entered Sundays play with a 3.88 starting staff ERA, on track for a great improvement over 2013, and a .993 team fielding percentage, which tied the club for second in baseball. "Were more concerned about more consistently putting a good effort forward and weve done that with every aspect of the game except for the offence," said Bautista. "Were obviously working to get better at that." 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