Carlos Tevez took man-of-the-match honours but Lionel Messi fell victim to Mexico's rugged marking as Argentina won 3-1 to reach the World Cup quarterfinals on Sunday.
Tevez scored a brace and striker Gonzalo Higuain claimed his fourth goal of the tournament as the two-time world champions set up an enticing last-eight duel with Germany in Cape Town on Saturday.
While Tevez garnered the plaudits for his wonder strike in the 52nd minute, the world's best player was closely marked by the Mexicans.
Messi was fouled five times over the course of the game, with Mexico skipper Rafael Marquez -- Messi's Barcelona teammate -- getting a yellow card for his special attention in the first half.
Messi was largely contained well away from the Mexican goal in the opening half, except for a cheeky attempt to chip goalkeeper Oscar Perez, but it took a spark of genius to conjure the opening goal for Tevez on 26 minutes.
The Manchester City striker was set free by a stabbed pass from Messi, and when his shot was parried by Perez, Messi lobbed the ball back towards goal for Tevez to head it over the line from close range.
The Mexicans vehemently protested that Tevez was in an offside position -- a view supported by replays -- but Italian referee Roberto Rosetti allowed the goal to stand after conferring with his assistant for several minutes.
Retribution was swift, with Marquez going into the referee's notebook for hacking down Messi from the restart.
Stuttgart defender Ricardo Osorio gifted Argentina their second goal seven minutes later when he gave the ball away just outside his area and Higuain pounced to round the goalkeeper and stroke home.
Tevez settled the issue seven minutes into the second half when he let fly with his right foot from outside the area, sending the ball rocketing past Perez's despairing dive into the top-right corner.
Tevez was mobbed by teammates as he raced towards the team dug-out and was given a long embrace by coach Diego Maradona.
His spectacular night came to an end in the 69th minute when he was replaced by Juan Sebastian Veron.
Striker Javier Hernandez reduced the deficit on 71 minutes when he turned Martin Demichelis and held off Nicolas Otamendi to blast home a rising left-foot shot.