sport

Mascherano: No pain no gain

Javier Mascherano suffered a painful and highly embarrassing injury to keep Argentina's World Cup dreams alive.

Argentina made it through to Sunday's World Cup final thanks to a 4-2 penalty win over Holland in Sao Paulo on Wednesday night.

Argentina barely gave Holland a sight of goal until the 90th minute when Arjen Robben latched on to Wesley Sneijder's flick and bore down on goal - but Mascherano slid in to avert the danger.

The match-saving interception came at a painful price, as Mascherano explained.

"I stretched my anus on that move," the Argentina midfielder said. "The pain, it was terrible.

"I thought I wouldn't make it. I thought he'd get ahead of me, I thought of so many things, but I did get there.

"I threw myself into it. I could have been sent off. It could have been a penalty. But anyone could have done that, I had the luck to get there."

"I cried at the end because I have spent a lot of time waiting for this moment," added Mascherano, who is Argentina's vice-captain.

"This is my third World Cup and maybe my last one. It's a delight to be in the final, a delight that lifts your soul. It's something you can't explain, it's something I never imagined would happen.

"And I know the people at home will be happy because two generations could not see Argentina in the final of a World Cup, they can see us there now so we are happy for that."

After watching Germany hammer Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final, Mascherano knows Argentina will have to work hard to win their first World Cup since 1986.

"I don't fear losing," he said. "We know it is going to be difficult because they are a big team, a formidable team, but we will give everything we have got just like we did (against Holland).

"I hope we can win on Sunday. I think the only thing we have to avoid is thinking about the scale of the situation."