BRASILIA: Argentina reached the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 24 years on Saturday after a Gonzalo Higuain strike secured a 1-0 win over Belgium.
Napoli striker Higuain lashed in an instinctive first time shot after eight minutes as Belgium’s hopes of qualifying for the last four wilted in Brasilia.
The victory sees Argentina advance to next Wednesday’s semi-final in Sao Paulo where they will face the winner of Saturday’s other quarter-final between the Netherlands and Costa Rica.
Argentina’s win snapped a run of two successive World Cup quarter-final exits following failures against Germany in 2006 and 2010.
It is the first time the South Americans have qualified for the last four since the 1990 finals in Italy.
A hard-fought contest at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium was settled in the opening skirmishes.
A ball from Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria deflected off Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen and fell invitingly into the path of Higuain, who rifled a shot past Thibaut Courtois.
The win keeps Argentina on course for a possible dream final against hosts Brazil at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.
Brazil set up a semi-final showdown with Germany after Friday’s bruising 2-1 win over Colombia.
That match was overshadowed by the tournament-ending injury to Brazil’s star striker Neymar.