Iran's goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi dives but fails to stop a goal by Argentina's Lionel Messi during the group F World Cup soccer match between Argentina and Iran at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Argentina defeated Iran 1-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Iran's goalkeeper Alireza Haghighi dives but fails to stop a goal by Argentina's Lionel Messi during the group F World Cup soccer match between Argentina and Iran at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Argentina defeated Iran 1-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Iran's Andranik Teymourian, left, takes the ball away from Argentina's Lionel Messi during the group F World Cup soccer match between Argentina and Iran at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Saturday, June 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Iran's Andranik Teymourian, left, takes the ball away from Argentina's Lionel Messi during the group F World Cup soccer match between Argentina and Iran at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Saturday, June 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 21:  Lionel Messi of Argentina scores his team's first goal past Alireza Haghighi of Iran during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao on June 21, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 21: Lionel Messi of Argentina scores his team's first goal past Alireza Haghighi of Iran during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao on June 21, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi saved Argentina's blushes with a brilliant stoppage time winner against unheralded Iran at the World Cup to send the South Americans into the last 16.

Sensing an upset might be possible at 0-0, Iran were bolder in the second half. Lone striker Reza Ghoochannejhad broke free in the 53rd minute but shot straight at Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero before Ashkan Dejagah saw a strong header tipped over.

PICTURES: AP and Getty