Higuain: I kept the faith

  • Last Updated: July 6 2014, 17:58 BST

Gonzalo Higuain may be able to take some of the burden off Lionel Messi's shoulders after .

Higuain: Best match of the finals so far against Belgium
Higuain: Best match of the finals so far against Belgium

Higuain played his best match of the tournament in the 1-0 quarter-final win over Belgium - scoring the goal, hitting the crossbar and threatening on a number of other occasions.

It was a timely response, especially as some critics such as Diego Maradona had been questioning his value to the team and highlighting the fact the Napoli striker had yet to score.

Higuain had been a doubt for the tournament as a whole after picking up an ankle injury playing club football in Italy.

The 26-year-old told reporters after the game: "It's not been an easy situation for me. I very nearly didn't make it to the World Cup at all, but fortunately everything has worked out and I've been able to get that goal.

"People been asking me since the first day of the tournament when the goal was going to come and I've always given them the same answer: 'I'm working on it'.

"But I wasn't getting desperate - I knew I was going to get a goal sooner or later.

"Obviously I'm very happy, especially with this being such a historically important win for Argentina."

Higuain's performance against Belgium showed he has suffered no ill-effects from the injury, not least with one fabulous run from the halfway line which saw him nutmeg Vincent Kompany before striking a fierce shot which clipped the crossbar.

That sort of confident display will be vital for the semi-final against Holland in Sao Paulo on Wednesday - especially if Messi continues to play in a deeper, midfield role. Messi was still hugely effective, but he admitted the extra running came at a cost.

"It was a different position and I had to run more than usual so I was a little tired, but we are playing as a team," the Barcelona forward said.

"We ran more than ever, even if we didn't create as much as in the other matches.

"The important thing is that we have reached our first goal - to be among the final four.

"Now we want even more. We have enjoyed what we have done so far, but let's focus now on what's coming - and we are prepared."