Switzerland hold Messi's Argentina 0-0 in first half

SAO PAULO, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Lionel Messi's Argentina were held 0-0 by a defence-minded Switzerland in the first half of a World Cup round of 16 match here on Tuesday.

Switzerland concentrated on defence throughout the first half and only left Bayer Leverkusen forward Josip Drmic in front waiting for counter attacks with the others retreating to their own half for most of the time.

Their best chance came in the 38 minute when Drmic found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Sergio Romero at the edge of the box following a fast break. However, the 21-year-old's hasty shot caused no threat since Romero caught the slow shot as ease.

The Swiss wasted another good opportunity in the 26th minute. Granit Xhaka met a reversed pass in the area after a good dribble into the box by Xherdan Shaqiri near the base line. Xhaka's shot looked like Switzerland scored but Romero blocked it out with his foot.

The Sampdoria keeper who played on loan for Monaco last season followed up with another good save, stopping Stephan Lichtsteiner's long-range rebound outside of the box.

One minute earlier, Messi had swung in a freekick from the right flank. Higuain leaped high only to see his header off the target.

The Albiceleste made five shots in the first half with four on targets. And the Swiss had three of their four shots in target.

Switzerland maintained the same lineup they used in the 3-0 final round victory against Honduras while La Albiceleste coach Alejandro Sabella fielded PSG striker Ezequiel Lavezzi to replace Man City talisman Sergio Aguero who injured his leg muscle.