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Mascherano, Zabaleta play on after blows to head

AP - Sports
Mascherano, Zabaleta play on after blows to head

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SAO PAULO (AP) -- Javier Mascherano and Pablo Zabaleta both played on for Argentina on Tuesday after being knocked down by blows to the head.

Mascherano looked discombobulated after he clashed heads with Georginio Winjaldum in the first half of Argentina's World Cup semifinal win over the Netherlands.

Holding his head, he took a few steps and then slumped to the ground. After receiving medical attention, he returned to the game and played a key defensive role to keep the Netherlands from scoring.

''It's good, good,'' Mascherano said after his team advanced to the final with a 4-2 shootout win. ''I had a little bit of a headache. But now good.''

Zabaleta went down bleeding from his mouth after smashing his face into Netherlands wingback Dirk Kuyt's shoulder in extra time.

He also played on after team doctors put a piece of tissue in his mouth.

Earlier in the tournament, the world players' union accused FIFA of failing to protect Uruguay midfielder Alvaro Pereira after he stayed in the match following a hard blow to the head.

Although Pereira acknowledged he was briefly knocked unconscious and then felt dizzy, FIFA said the responsibility lies with the team doctor, who allowed him to continue playing.

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