Angel di Maria made up for a poor display by firing Argentina into the FIFA World Cup last eight with a 1-0 extra-time win over Switzerland.
Not for the first time this tournament, Alejandro Sabella's men struggled to make their presence felt in attack for large spells, with the Real Madrid midfielder guilty of conceding possession on a number of occasions.
However, Di Maria popped up with just two minutes of extra time remaining to sweep home after some good work by Lionel Messi.
Substitute Blerim Dzemaili headed against the post for Switzerland before time was up, and should have done better with the rebound.
The result sets up a last-eight meeting for Argentina with Belgium or the United States in Brasilia, and was ultimately harsh on a Switzerland side who defended resolutely in what will now prove to have been Ottmar Hitzfeld's final game in charge before retiring.
Argentina were forced into one change, with Ezequiel Lavezzi coming in for injured striker Sergio Aguero, while Switzerland stuck with the same XI that triumphed 3-0 over Honduras in their closing Group E fixture.
Xherdan Shaqiri ran riot with three goals in that convincing victory, but chances were few and far between for both sides in the opening stages in Sao Paulo - a Gonzalo Higuain header that comfortably cleared the crossbar was as close as either came to hitting the target inside the first 25 minutes.
Switzerland injected some life into an otherwise dormant half in the 28th minute when Granit Xhaka and Stephan Lichsteiner were both denied by Sergio Romero in the Argentina goal, before Lavezzi called Diego Benaglio into action at the other end with his team's first accurate effort moments later.
Germany's Manuel Neuer produced a superb goalkeeping display in their last-16 clash on Monday, effectively acting as sweeper at times when his defence was breached by Algeria, but Argentine counterpart Romero was statuesque when Josip Drmic found himself clean through on goal in the 39th minute.
However, the Bayer Leverkusen striker's attempted chip was tame, and Romero gratefully clutched the ball to his chest.
Romero was far from convincing in keeping out a Shaqiri free-kick from 25 yards five minutes into the second half, and Argentina looked short of ideas going forward, evoking memories of their last-gasp 1-0 victory over Iran in the group stage.
Benaglio denied Marcos Rojo from a tight angle as Argentina got a rare sight of goal, before Di Maria attempted a flamboyant cross.
Trying to be pleasing on the eye, he left his team-mates far from pleased as his showboating resulted in a Swiss goal-kick and an opportunity wasted.
Benaglio's reflexes were put to the test shortly after the hour mark as he tipped away a powerful Higuain header, and Messi shot narrowly over soon after as the Argentinian pressure started to build.
Messi went close again with a drilled effort that Benaglio got down well to meet, but both nets remained untroubled as a last-16 clash entered extra-time for the fourth time this tournament.
Having disappointed for much of the game, Di Maria ultimately emerged as the hero for Argentina.
The 26-year-old, who had earlier forced Benaglio into a fine save at his near post in the second half of extra time, received the ball following a probing run from Messi and calmly slotted a left-footed finish across Benaglio and into the far corner.
Dzemaili remarkably had a chance to equalise in injury time, but headed against the post from close range before failing to convert the rebound.
|7||Á. di María||118' 120'|
|Coach: A. Sabella|
for E. Lavezzi 74'
for M. Rojo 105+1'
for F. Gago 106'
|Wembley loss has no bearing on new season - Terry|
|Porto cruise to friendly win over Stoke|
|Mourinho denies Wenger ´snub´ suggestions|
|Arsenal abandoned their philosophy to win Community Shield - Mourinho|
|Mourinho throws Community Shield medal into Wembley crowd|
|Swindon Town 1 Liverpool 2: Benteke nets stunner on debut|
|Scottish Premiership Review: Hearts win thriller on top-flight return|
|Ujah at the double as Bremen beat West Ham|
|Mourinho: We were the better team|
|Wenger hails defensive solidity|
|Rooney returns as Villarreal spoil Ferguson´s party|
|Rodriguez stunner earns Southampton draw as Caulker makes debut|
|Arsenal 1 Chelsea 0: Case of 14th time lucky for Wenger against Mourinho|
|Taechaubol announces Milan agreement|
|Jojic fires Cologne to latest victory|
|China 0 South Korea 2: Kim and Lee seal victory|
|Origi getting up to speed|
|Costa a doubt for start of season - Mourinho|
|North Korea 2 Japan 1: Halilhodzic´s men spurn lead|
|Allam brands FA ´amateurs´ as name-change row rumbles on|
|Fournier ´worried´ by Lyon pre-season|
|Swansea still working on Michu exit - Monk|
|Neuer furious at Bayern Supercup defeat|
|Wenger: Ozil signing not a mistake|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: Shakhtar ready for Fenerbahce decider|
|Lampard targets MLS play-offs for City|
|MLS Review: Goals galore as DC United win 10-goal thriller|
|Ronaldinho returns and helps Fluminense to win|
|Keane: United won´t overtake Chelsea|
|Casillas has the ´enthusiasm of a 20-year-old´ - Lopetegui|
|Blanc hopeful over Ibrahimovic knee injury|
|Guardiola laments late goal in Supercup defeat|
|Tuchel plans to keep Bender|
|Hecking happy with Wolfsburg discipline after Supercup win|
|Arsenal players too interested in selfies and six-packs - Keane|
|Confusion over Ibrahimovic´s PSG future|
|Sporting Lisbon 2 Roma 0: Slimani, Mane inspire Portuguese hosts|
|Rodgers feeling ready for new campaign|
|Khedira to miss Supercoppa|
|Paris Saint-Germain 2 Lyon 0: Aurier and Cavani seal more silverware|
|Wolfsburg 1 Bayern Munich 1 (5-4 on penalties): Super-sub Bendtner nicks it for Pokal champions|
|Lampard´s long-awaited New York City debut ends in defeat|
|Casillas the spot-kick hero for Porto|
|Monk bullish ahead of season opener at champions|
|Marseille 2-0 Juventus: Night to forget for Serie A champions|
|Swansea end pre-season with yet another draw|
|HJK 0 Liverpool 2: Origi and Coutinho on target|
|Juventus rocked by Khedira injury scare|
|Lens and Pantilimon star as Sunderland beat Hannover|
|Pardew hopeful of concluding Wickham deal|
|Martinez allays Lukaku fears|
|Stuttgart 4 Manchester City 2: Cause for concern for Pellegrini|
|Wasteful Bournemouth held by Hoffenheim|
|Jerome seals Norwich win|
|Souare´s first goal ensures Palace draw|
|Sinclair hits hat-trick in Villa draw|
|Leicester end pre-season with thrilling Birmingham win|
|Wood and Mowatt condemn Everton to friendly defeat|
|Coloccini not involved as Newcastle lose to Gladbach|
|Borussia Dortmund 2 Real Betis 0: Ramos scores on return from injury|
|Stoke lose to Cologne on Afellay debut|
|Norwich capture goalkeeper Kean|
|Jovetic hits out at Pellegrini following City exit|
|Jones backing new boys to spark United revival|
|Scottish Premiership Review: Celtic up and running, Dundee hammer Kilmarnock|
|Can keen to learn from Milner|
|Immobile on the mend following friendly scare|
|Sagan Tosu 1 Atletico Madrid 1 (1-4 on penalties): Simeone´s men need spot-kicks|
|Cahill: Big-spending rivals will make title race tougher|
|Roberto happy to play full-back for Barca|
|Gestede eager to make his mark at Villa|
|I want to play more and score more - Remy|
|Lambert influence important, says Pulis|
|Benteke a ´bargain´ buy - Rodgers|
|Zola: Qatar would be ideal for Balotelli, Cassano|
|Suarez: I´m not among world´s best|
|PSG ready despite ´chaotic´ pre-season - Blanc|
|Arsenal thumping still hurts - Fournier|
|Aubameyang targets Champions League success|
|Rooney set for Everton return|
|Cech can match Van der Sar - Wenger|
|Mourinho ponders Wenger´s losing record against him|
|CBF confirm Fred failed a doping test|
|Bournemouth beaten by battling Cardiff|
|Immobile injury overshadows Sevilla win at Vicarage Road|
|Lambert at the double on West Brom bow|
|Real sign up Spain starlet Vallejo|
|Valencia blow for West Ham|
|Elche cleared to play in Segunda Division|
|Baker pens a new Villa deal|
|Lambert makes Albion switch|
|Gillingham and Scally found guilty of ´race victimisation´|
|Inter complete Jovetic signing|
|Arsenal v Chelsea: Mourinho cools Wenger rivalry ahead of Wembley meeting|
|Villa snap up Gestede|
|Villa land Veretout|
|Mourinho coy on fresh Stones bid|
|Aubameyang commits to Dortmund|
|Torres on the hunt for trophies with Atletico|
|Cazorla and Walcott sign new Arsenal deals|
|Quick start vital in Arsenal title bid - Wilshere|
|I have received no offers - Guardiola|
|Barcelona to monitor Turan injury|
|Zorc ´surprised´ by Grosskreutz-Tuchel row|
|Phil Neville could be England manager - Moyes|
|UEFA to investigate Shakhtar´s Fred selection|
|City loan Unal to Genk|
|China v South Korea: Stielike looking for new options|
|North Korea v Japan: Halilhodzic to unearth new faces|
|Drogba: I want to be ready, not a burden|
|Hamstrung Clasie in doubt for Southampton league opener|
|West Ham goalscorer Zarate bemoans Astra comeback|
|Negredo quashes Valencia exit rumours|
|´This is not my Sampdoria´ - president Ferrero|
|Criscito could join Inter - agent|
|CBF endorse Zico´s FIFA presidency campaign|
|Hawit to handle CONCACAF´s referee review|
|Falcao is a ´top, top player´ - Terry|
|Tuchel pleased by Dortmund fighting qualities|
|Premier League rules out schedule changes for Champions League clubs|
|UEFA Europa League Review: Southampton stroll as Sampdoria are humiliated|