Lionel Messi scored his first goal in a World Cup knockout stage in his 1,000th appearance to beat Diego Maradona s tournament tally, as Argentina brushed off a frenetic Australia fightback to win 2-1 on Saturday to reach the quarterfinals. Messi put the side ahead after 35 minutes with a coolly taken low strike for his 94th international goal. He passed the great Maradona s eight World Cup goals in a contest when he was important in practically every Argentine attempt.
Julian Alvarez scored around the hour mark following keeper Mat Ryan’s error. Setting up a last-eight matchup with the Netherlands, who beat the U.S. 3-1 earlier in the day. With nothing to lose. The Socceroos scored 13 minutes after Craig Goodwin’s shot deflected off Enzo Fernandez and into the net for an own goal.
Lionel Messi propels Argentina to World Cup quarterfinals.
Messi wasted two excellent chances late on. But it was Australia adolescent substitute Garang Kuol who had hearts racing in the stadium when deep into stoppage time, his close-range drive on the spin was well saved by Emi Martinez. The Australia bench put their heads in their hands as the final whistle blew moments later. Igniting furious celebrations from the Argentina players and roaring around the crowded Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium. Man of the match, Messi confessed the last moments were tough.
Argentina struggled to find their stride in a physical match that started ugly. Alejandro Gomez, Fernandez, and Alvarez combined nicely. But could not break past a stubborn defense as Messi fought to make his impression. Australia had an opportunity from a corner when tall defender Harry Souttar jumped high in the area but headed tamely. With the help of their passionate home crowd. He sang and jumped up and down in sync from all corners of the stadium. Argentina scored the game’s first goal after 35 minutes, with Messi providing the assist on a brilliantly played goal that was executed with lightning quickness.
Alexis Mac Allister sent Nicolas Otamendi to Messi
He took a free kick and then picked out Alexis Mac Allister, who passed to Nicolas Otamendi to tap delicately back into the path of Messi. He blasted low into the corner and beyond the reach of the outstretched Ryan. After a terrible back-pass gaffe from Ryan, Argentina earned their second close to the hour. He came under siege from Rodrigo De Paul and was stripped of the ball by Alvarez, who turned and slotted home. Australia refused to give up and unleashed a string of threatening plays that scared an Argentina team. His attention was focused more on their attacks.
After Goodwin s deflected shot went in, there was a real threat of extra time in the venue. The Socceroos had booked their World Cup berth via a penalty shootout success over Peru in an intercontinental playoff earlier this year. They surged forward furiously and nearly equalized. Aziz Behich sprinted dangerously into the area before a fantastic saving tackle by Lisandro Martinez. Argentina sought a third goal, with Lautaro Martinez hitting wide and Messi coming close before Australia substitute Garang Kuol missed with seconds left in stoppage time.