Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri, controls the ball against Argentina's Marcos Rojo during their World Cup round of 16 soccer match at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Switzerland's Xherdan Shaqiri, controls the ball against Argentina's Marcos Rojo during their World Cup round of 16 soccer match at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Argentina's Lionel Messi passes the ball past Switzerland's Valon Behrami during their World Cup round of 16 soccer match at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Argentina's Lionel Messi passes the ball past Switzerland's Valon Behrami during their World Cup round of 16 soccer match at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio dives but can't stop a goal by Argentina's Angel di Maria in extra time during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Argentina and Switzerland at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio dives but can't stop a goal by Argentina's Angel di Maria in extra time during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Argentina and Switzerland at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Argentina's Lionel Messi shoots over the bar during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match against Switzerland at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Argentina's Lionel Messi shoots over the bar during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match against Switzerland at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Argentina's Lionel Messi tackles Switzerland's Goekhan Inler during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Argentina and Switzerland at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Argentina's Lionel Messi tackles Switzerland's Goekhan Inler during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Argentina and Switzerland at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JULY 01: Angel di Maria of Argentina scores his team's first goal in extra time during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JULY 01: Angel di Maria of Argentina scores his team's first goal in extra time during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Argentina and Switzerland at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 1, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi set up a late winning goal as lacklustre Argentina downed Switzerland 1-0 in extra-time to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

Angel Di Maria's strike in the 118th minute after a surging counter-attack launched by Messi settled a gritty duel for Argentina as penalties loomed at Sao Paulo's Corinthians Arena.

The result was cruel on Switzerland, who looked to have done enough to take the game to a penalty shoot-out with a disciplined defensive display that Argentina rarely looked like threatening.

But with two minutes left, Swiss fullback Stephan Lichtsteiner was caught in possession near halfway.

Messi accelerated clear, and after hurdling Fabian Schar's attempt to bring him down, slipped a pass to Di Maria who swept the winner past Diego Benaglio.

Sapa - AFP