Messi for Argentina

Messi Continues World Cup Dream, Leads Argentina Past Dogged Australia

Lionel Messi netted his first career World Cup knockout stage goal as Argentina survived a late Australia scare to claim a 2-1 victory at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

As reported by Marca, the Albiceleste were slow out of the gates as the plucky Socceroos looked to frustrate their more illustrious opponents.

That all changed after Messi – playing in his 1,000th career game – put them ahead in the first half, while Julian Alvarez looked to have put things to bed after the restart.

Instead, a late Enzo Fernandez own goal made for a tense finish, though Argentina held on in the end to set up a clash with the Netherlands in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Argentina had plenty of possession but little to show for it in the early stages.

Although Australia didn’t park the bus, the South American side struggled to find any sort of space in the final third.

However just as Australia began to grow in confidence, Argentina took the lead thanks to their star man.

The PSG man collected the ball near the edge of the box from a Nicolas Otamendi touch, and expertly steered home his 789th goal in 1,000 career games – and first ever in a World Cup knockout game.

Argentina began the second half much like the first, controlling possession and dictating the tempo, and their efforts were rewarded with a second following a blunder by Matthew Ryan.

The Australia goalkeeper took a heavy first touch from a backpass and stepped around Rodrigo de Paul.

Unfortunately for him, Julian Alvarez was there to strip him off the ball and place it into the bottom corner of the empty goal.

The game took on a different dimension in the 77th minute when Craig Goodwin lashed a shot from distance that took a huge deflection off Enzo Fernandez and past Emiliano Martinez.

Aziz Behich almost scored one of the goals of the tournament soon after, taking on several Argentina players before Lisandro Martinez threw himself in front of the shot to save his side.

Lautaro Martinez wasted two golden opportunities to put the match to bed, while Emiliano Martinez kept his nerve and denied Garang Kuol with one of the final kicks of the game as Argentine held on to progress through to the next round.

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