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2022 FIFA World Cup: Lionel Messi leads Argentina to 2-1 win over Australia for a ticket to the quarterfinals

Posted: Saturday, December 3, 2022. 3:43 pm CST.

Photo Credit: FIFA

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Lionel Messi led Argentina to a 2-1 hard-fought victory over a tough Australian side earning a ticket to the quarterfinals.

It took a while, but Messi upped his game, put on a show and scored the first goal in captaining La Albiceleste to victory though many opportunities were missed in a game that could have finished with a bigger score. But the Australians must be given credit for keeping the game within reach until the end.

Argentina scored the opener in the 35th minute. Messi controlled a cross deftly, made a pass out to Mac Allister, cut into the penalty area as Alexis Mac Allister chipped the ball to Rodrigo De Paul in the box. De Paul placed it for Messi and the Argentine captain fired a low shot to the left beating goalkeeper Matthew Ryan, with the ball finding its way into the net next to the far post.

That was Messi’s first knockout stage goal at a World Cup in his 1000th professional match. The goal is Messi’s third in this World Cup.

Australia had played a perfect defensive game up to that moment. Argentina had been pushing forward from the onset but past the half-hour mark, Australia started coming out of their totally defensive stance and started making incursions into the Argentine half. Argentina had been extremely patient bidding their moment and it came after a few heated plays that might have unsettled the Australian defensive unit.

Messi exhibited amazing patience and coolness in setting up and finished the play that put his team ahead.

Argentina went ahead 2-0 in the 57th when Julián Álvarez picked the pocket of Australian goalkeeper Matthew Ryan taking the ball away in the goal area and smacking it into the net.

But despite Argentina’s advances, Australia retained their composure and also pushed forward pulling one back in the 77th when Craig Goodwin fired a blast at goal. Defender Enzo Fernández diverted the ball past goalkeeper Emiliano ‘Dibu’ Martinez into the net for the 2-1 score.

Both teams, particularly Argentina, created opportunities down the stretch but neither Messi and his teammates nor the Australians, could find the net again.

Australian had the last opportunity in the 90’+8’ when Garang Kuol saw his shot within the goal area smothered by Martínez. If that had scored, the game would have gone into extra-time.

In the end, Messi and Argentina prevailed 2-1 and the South American side will face the Netherlands in the quarterfinals next Friday, December 9, at 1:00 pm.


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