DOHA: Lionel Messi scored his first-ever goal in the world cup knockouts to set up a resounding 2-1 victory over brave Australia to power Argentina into the quarter-finals of the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2022.
Argentina’s star player and skipper Messi opened the scoring for his side in a 2-1 win over the Socceroos.
Making his 1000th appearance, the star player scored his 789th goal which was his first for Argentina in world cup knockouts and helped set up a Round of 16 victory that propelled them into the last eight.
Despite being outraged, the gutsy Australian side defied all expectations in Qatar and went down fighting and frustrating the strong Argentine attack that included Messi.
Argentina and coach Lionel Scaloni desperately needed something exceptional, and Messi provided it 10 minutes from the interval.
Messi bent the ball left-footed along the ground and into the corner after Alexis Mac Allister feed defender Nicolas Otamendi while he was still in the box for an Argentina free kick.
Australia desperately needed to attack in the second half but instead self-destructed when goalkeeper and captain Mathew Ryan attempted to play out under intense pressure in his box from hard-running Rodrigo De Paul just before the hour-mark.
Ryan, however, was dispossessed by Alvarez, who nipped in, stole the ball, and swivelled to slot into an empty net to double Argentina’s lead.
In a game, majorly dominated by Messi’s men, Australia, however, found a moment of fortune when substitute Craig Goodwin latched onto a loose clearance and his shot hit Enzo Fernandez and ricocheted in with 13 minutes left.
Teenager Garang Kuol then forced Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez into a desperate save deep in injury time and denied further drama as Argentina clinched a stunning victory.
Messi’s Argentina will now take on Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands in the quarter-finals on Saturday.