RIO DE JANEIRO, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Lionel Messsi and Miroslav Klose rose to the occasion at the crucial moment to save Argentina and Germany from disatrous defeats respectively at their World Cup group matches on Saturday.
Messi struck a stunning late goal in the 91st minute to break Iranian hearts and earn Argentina a barely deserved 1-0 victory in their Group F clash in Belo Horizonte.
Klose, 36, scored a quick equalizer only two minutes onto the pitch as a substitute when Germany trailing 2-1, levelling Ronaldo's World Cup all-time scoring record of 15 goals and giving tournament favorites Germany a hard-labored 2-2 draw against Ghana in their Group G match in Fortaleza.
After the draw Ghana managed to keep their last-16 hope alive with one point from two matches while Germany still need to be cautious since the four points they pocketed can guarantee nothing in the group which also includes the United States.
In the day's another Group F match, Nigeria upset Bosnia and Herzegovina 1-0 in Cuiaba thanks to a goal from Peter Odemwingie in the 29th minute.
Messi, who had been subdued for most of the match, curled a wicked left-footed shot around Iran's defence and into the top left corner in second-half stoppage time.
It was a painful blow for Iran, who had several chances to secure victory despite being written off by almost everybody before the match. ' The result virtually guarantees Argentina's passage to the second round while Iran must win their final match against Bosnia-Herzegovina to have any chance of progressing beyond the group stage.
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella praised Messi's brilliance, but bemoaned his team's inability to score in the first half.
"We had four or five clear chances to score a goal and in the second half they complicated things for us with counterattacks," Sabella said. "But having Messi resolved everything."
After an eight-year World Cup goal drought, the 26-year-old has now scored twice in as many matches in Brazil.
Both Germany and Ghana remained scoreless after a plain first half before Germany broke the deadlock 51 minutes into the match. Mario Gotze met a cross ball whipped in from the right flank and the 1.71-meter nodded home after the ball deflected off his left knee and past Ghana's goalkeeper Fatau Dauda.
The jubilant German fans in the Castelao Stadium only had celebrated for three minutes before Ghana's Andre Ayew equalized in the same way as their opponents scored the first goal. Only this time Ayew's header was more powerful as it flew into the bottom left of the goal.
Asamoah Gyan gave the "Black Stars" the lead nine minutes later after he ran into the box and beat German keeper Manuel Neuer with a brilliant finish into the side netting.
The Germans were struggling to even the score and brought in their seasoned center forward Klose in the 69th minute. The 36-year-old only needed two minutes to fulfill the mission.
German defender Benedikt Howedes flicked on a corner kick and the ball sneaked past everyone else in the box. Klose touched home in the far post and scored his 15th goal in World Cup to level with Brazil's Ronaldo as the all-time top scorer in the tournament.
The goal also made Klose one of only three players to have scored in four World Cups after Brazil's legend Pele and Uwe Seeler of Germany.
"It was not a perfect match, but I can't remember the last time I did it (score a goal in World Cup)," Klose said. "But still, 15 goals in 20 matches, that is not bad."
"I am very happy for Klose. He stepped on the pitch and after just two minutes he scored the goal. It's sensational for him," said Joachim Loew, coach of Germany. "He is a player who can have a decisive impact, which is of great importance for me and for the team."