Di Maria puts himself in World Cup spotlight

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 1, 2014 at 5:35 pm •  Published: July 1, 2014
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SAO PAULO (AP) — Angel di Maria's first goal of this World Cup couldn't have come at a better time for Argentina, or for himself.

Overshadowed by the efforts of captain Lionel Messi, the winger showed his importance to the team on Tuesday and came through when Argentina really needed him.

He scored two minutes before the end of extra time to avoid penalties and secure a 1-0 win over Switzerland that sent Argentina through to the quarterfinals.

Di Maria tried to deflect credit, saying all his teammates were responsible.

"All 23 of us and the technical staff are heroes," di Maria said. "We gave our life. We left our soul on the pitch."

Before his goal, di Maria didn't have the best of matches, giving the ball away a couple of dozen times. But his first-time shot against Switzerland more than made up for his shortcomings at Sao Paulo Arena.

After receiving a flicked pass from Messi, he struck the ball low to beat Switzerland goalkeeper Diego Benaglio at the far post.

Di Maria's previous highlight of the tournament was hitting the post in Argentina's 3-2 win over Nigeria in the group stage.

He had a good season for Real Madrid, and among his best moments was providing the assist for the equalizer in the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid won 4-1.