Argentina progressed to the last eight, after overcoming Mexico in extra-time following a thrilling encounter in Leipzig.
Coming from a goal behind, the World Cup favourites were made to battle all the way by a tenacious Mexican side, but they eventually prevailed courtesy of a wonder goal in extra-time by Maxi Rodriguez.
Argentina were without the injured Nicolas Burdisso, but that apart are at full strength with Hernan Crespo, Javier Saviola, Gabriel Heinze, Lionel Scaloni and Juan Pablo Sorin all returning from the team that played Holland in the final group game.
Mexico made four changes, drafting in Jose Antonio Castro, Andres Guardado, Ramon Morales and Jared Borgetti.
Mexico started in terrific fashion, forcing a couple of corners in the opening two minutes and Borgetti came close with a header that skimmed the bar.
On five minutes their endeavours were rewarded when Marquez was left unmarked from a Mario Mendez free-kick and he slid in at the far post to give Mexico the lead.
The lead lasted just four minutes when Borgetti, who was tussling with Crespo, connected with a Riquelme corner and diverted the ball into his own net. The players appeared to touch the ball simultaneously, but Fifa subsequently awarded the goal to the Argentinian striker.
The action was fast and furious and Crespo should have given Argentina the lead midway through the first half when he was put through by Cambiasso, but he chipped just wide of the post with only Sanchez to beat. At the other end Borgetti brought a fine save from Abbondanzieri with a curling drive from the edge of the area.
When Salcido went down with an injury it gave the players the chance to take on water, and on the evidence of a frantic opening thirty minutes in which the action had flowed from one end to the other, they certainly had earned the opportunity to refuel.
Heinze was fortunate to remain on the pitch when, as the last defender, he clipped Francisco Fonseca as the striker burst through on goal following a careless pass by Abbondanzieri. The referee reached for a card, and to the dismay of the Mexicans, and the relief of the Argentinians, the colour was yellow.
Argentina enjoyed the bulk of the possession after the break, but the best chance fell to Borgetti at the other end when he was picked out on the far post, but his shot from six yards out was palmed away by Abbondanzieri.
Just before the hour mark, Saviola was presented with a wonderful chance after a wonderfully weighted pass ball by Riquelme, but the striker fired straight at Sanchez from 15 yards.
Although there were few clear cut chances in the second half it remained an absorbing contest, and as the match moved into the final quarter, Mexico began to take the game to Argentina. Pekerman responded boldly by removing Crespo and Cambiasso and introducing Tevez and Aimar.
With five minutes remaining, Fonseca almost broke won it for Mexico when he rose to meet Pineda’s cross, but his header drifted wide. The chance had been created by a wonderful mazy run by the substitute Zinham, who had definitely made a difference since he came on. At the other Osorio had to be alert to take the ball off Tevez as the striker was poised to shoot.
In the last minute of injury time Argentina thought they had won the game when Tevez set up Messi but as the youngster passed the ball into the empty net, the linesman raised his flag for offside. Television replays showed that Tevez had been onside when the ball was played, and the decision ensured that Mexico earned another 30 minutes as the match went into extra-time.
Rodriguez finally broke the deadlock when he chested down a pass from Sorin and hammered home a stunning left-footed volley from the edge of the area. It was a wonderful goal worthy of winning any game.
Mexico refused to accept that defeat was an inevitability and tried to revive theselves for one final effort. Zinha, who had been lively since coming on as a substitute, ran at the Argentinian defence but shot narrowly wide.
Mexico had played a huge part in a thrilling game, but ultimately they fell just short of pulling off an upset.
For Argentina, in the unlikely even that they thought that this World Cup would be a stroll, tonight’s game will certainly have disabused them of that notion. They were the better team, but they now face a resurgent Germany for a place in the last four, in what looks like a mouth-watering tie.
Argentina: Abbondanzieri, Ayala, Heinze, Scaloni, Sorin, Cambiasso, Riquelme, Rodriguez, Mascherano, Saviola, Crespo.
Subs used: Tevez 76 (for Crespo, Aimar 76 (for Camboiasso), Messi 84 (for Saviola).
Bookings: Heinze 45, Sorin 112
Mexico: Sanchez, Salcido, Marquez, Guardado, Osorio, Castro, Mendez, Pardo, Borgetti, Morales, Fonseca.
Subs used: Torrado 38, (for Pardo), Pineda 66 (for Guardado), Zinha 74 (for Morales).
Bookings: Marquez 70, Castro 82, Torrado 118, Fonseca 119.
Referee: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland).
Mexico: Marquez 5
Argentina: Crespo 9, Maxi Rodriguez 98