Messi sets up Brazil semi
© AFP

Argentina required extra time to edge the Netherlands 2-1 in a thrilling quarter-final in the Men's Olympic Football Tournament. Lionel Messi opened the scoring and then created the game's deciding goal for Angel Di Maria as Sergio Batista's side booked a date with Brazil in the last four.

The match began at a frenetic pace, which was to continue throughout the first half. The Netherlands registered the first shot on goal through Urby Emanuelson, but Argentina responded swiftly and, as is often the case, Messi was at the core of most of their purposeful advances.

He combined with Juan Roman Riquelme and rounded keeper Piet Velthuizen, who did well to recover and make a goal-line save. Thereafter, Sergio Aguero and Di Maria both came close to breaking the deadlock, but that distinction was to belong to Messi, who dribbled around the Dutch No1 once again and, this time, made no mistake with his finish.

Argentina controlled the game for much of the half, but on 36 minutes the Netherlands restored parity. Javier Mascherano blocked an Evander Sno shot and when the rebound fell to Otman Bakkal, the No17 was left with the simplest of finishes.

The Albiceleste picked up where they left off following the restart, probing for the game's third goal. Aguero was hungry for it but he spurned two further opportunities, panicking when one-on-one with Velthuizen and then watching his superb header drift narrowly wide.

The Oranje then forced Ustari into making a superb reflex save. Jonathan De Guzman's effort appeared to be sailing into the net, but the Getafe keeper's outstretched arm tipped the ball wide for a corner.

Messi then embarked on one of his swashbuckling runs, leaving several opponents in his wake, but his ensuing shot failed to trouble Velthuizen. Soon after, the referee's whistle indicated extra time would be needed.

In truth, both teams looked exhausted thereafter and penalties seemed inevitable. However, with 105 minutes gone, Messi's delightful pass freed Di Maria, and he slotted the ball home to snatch Argentina a semi-final meeting with their arch-rivals Brazil.