Great players never give up. Great players do historic things in key moments. Lionel Messi is the most accomplished, successful and feted footballer of his generation because he cannot be subdued for long. Tightly marked and facing a Swiss defence that resembled a forbidding mountain range at times, Argentina’s No 10 conjured up some magic when it mattered most.
Collecting the ball after 118 minutes, Messi angled his run across the Swiss box, glided round Fabian Schaer and stroked a pass right to Ángel di María. Argentina’s No 7, whose Real Madrid form had hitherto deserted him in this stultifying game, caught the ball sweetly, sending a low shot into the net, sending the reserves spilling on to the pitch, and sending the Argentina fans into raptures, waving their shirts above their head.