We are getting stronger

The only thing lacking for Messi, the little attacking schemer who became his country's youngest World Cup captain in place of rested skipper Javier Mascherano, was a goal.

He was denied by the width of a post after 86 minutes when he sent a scorching drive clattering against Greek goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas's right-hand upright.

Three minutes later he forced Tzorvas to make the last of a series of brilliant saves. Sadly for Tzorvas, the ball bounced into the path of substitute Martin Palermo, who lashed it home to crush any lingering hopes Greece may have had of surviving.

"I was only on for 10 minutes, but there were 10 great minutes," Palermo said.

"We showed we have some real strength in the squad tonight and we are just getting stronger. We are moving forward, we are improving and it was a great win for us tonight."

Greece had resisted Argentina's advances until the 77th minute when Martin Demichelis smashed the ball in from a metre out following a corner.

Image: Demichells (left) celebrates after scoring