Lionel Messi’s dream of winning a FIFA World Cup is still alive after Argentina defeated Australia in a tougher-than-expected match to reach the quarterfinals of the competition.
All three goals during their 2-1 were scored by Argentina’s players with Messi and Julian Alvarez netting for their team while Enzo Fernandez scored an own-goal for Australia’s only goal of the match at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Messi, playing in his 1000th career game, gave his side the lead in the 35th minute after a tame opening. After a freekick routine that went nowhere, Alexis Mac Allister fired the rebound to Nicolas Otamendi who had the simple job of teeing it up for Messi who fired past Matt Ryan.
This was Messi’s first knockout stage goal in his World Cup career.
The goal set the tone of Argentina being comfortable in possession and Australia biding their time which led to some mundane passages until the 57th minute when Alvarez robbed Ryan in the Australian goal to score into an empty net for his side’s second goal.
With no option but to attack, Australia finally came to life and launched a flurry of attacks, succeeding in the 77th minute when Craig Goodwin’s wayward shot took a huge deflection off Argentina’s Fernandez and ended up in the back of the net.
Argentina had the chance to put the game to bed with spaces opening up but Lautaro Martinez missed a clear chance before Messi did the same.
Their wastefulness nearly cost them at the end when substitute Garang Kuol nearly scored the equaliser only to be denied by Emi Martinez to send Argentina through.