Sports

Messi the only bright spot in lackluster Argentine quartet at World Cup

Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain leaps over Iran's goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi after taking a shot on goal during the group F World Cup soccer match between Argentina and Iran at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Saturday, June 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain leaps over Iran's goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi after taking a shot on goal during the group F World Cup soccer match between Argentina and Iran at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Saturday, June 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)  (The Associated Press)

The "fantastic four" didn't look so fabulous, so once again the magnificent one had to come to the rescue for Argentina.

Argentina is through to the second round at the World Cup largely thanks to Lionel Messi's exceptional left foot. The attacking quartet he spearheads with Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel Di Maria didn't click in the 1-0 win over Iran.

After a series of missed opportunities, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella broke up the foursome in the 76th minute, replacing Higuain and Aguero with backup strikers Rodrigo Palacio and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Messi says "we know that we were not playing as well as we expected," but adds that it's difficult to find space "when the other team protects the goal so well."