Lionel Messi Sparkles In His 1000th Career Appearance, As He Helps Argentina Qualify To The Quarter-Finals Of The 2022 World Cup.

In the round-of-16 second game, Argentina survived a late scare to defeat Australia 2-1 and advance to the quarter-finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The game at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium with 42,032 attendance on Saturday night, kicked-off a slow affair with both sides struggling to get on the ball and create any concrete chances. Argentina had plenty of possession, but lacked urgency and intensity, whereas the Australians didn't Park the bus but lacked creativity in attacking areas.

That all changed with a moment of magic from Lionel Messi who was winning his 169th cap, sparked the game into life in the 35th minutes. The PSG man collected the ball near the edge of the box from a Nicolas Otamendi touch, before finding a yard of space to expertly net home to give Albiceleste the lead. 

The goal from the 35-year-old Messi was the only shot on target for either side in what was a lacklustre first half of football.

It's was Messi's 1000th career appearances for both club and country, his 100th appearance as captain of his national team, and he marked it by scoring his first career World Cup knockout stage in what is his fifth appearance and could be his last in the Mundial.

It was also his 789th career goal, 94 of those coming for Argentina, and Messi is now the joint top goalscorer in Qatar.

His strike also meant that he recorded his ninth World Cup goal, which is one more than Maradona, and his now one goal away from equalling Gabriel Batistuta’s record as Argentina’s all-time World Cup goal-scorer.

The second-half began with the South American side struggling to find any sort of space in the final third, as the plucky Socceroos side came out with more energy and urgency as they looked to frustrate their more illustrious opponents.

Julian Alvarez looked to have put things to bed, after he doubled the lead after Australia goalkeeper Matthew Ryan took a heavy first touch from a backpass as he tried to guide the ball past two Argentina players, but Man City's forward Alvarez was there to strip him off the ball and place it into the bottom corner of the empty goal in the 57th minute.

Australia set up a grandstand finish in the 77th minute when Craig Goodwin lashed a shot from distance that took a huge deflection off Enzo Fernandez and past Emiliano Martinez, the own goal brought the game to a tense finish.

Though Argentina held on in the end , as Messi's brilliance takes Lionel Scaloni's side through to the next round and a tantalising quarter-final encounter against the unbeatable Netherlands side under Louis Van Gaal on Friday, December 9.

Meanwhile it's the end of the road for Graham Arnold's Socceroos side at the 2022 World Cup. Australia were huge underdogs going into the tournament, few at home hadn't expected them to get even this far, but this has been a World Cup of shocks.

Messi was further named the Man of the Match, spoke on how he feels thankful for having Argentina fans supporting him.

"These are incredible feelings and we love to share these moments with them," said the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"We know they made a lot of effort to be here and we also remember those who are in Argentina.

"This union we have is something very nice and that is what the national team has to be. We wanted to get together again with our people because it is incredible how they live it and how they transmit us that joy. We thank them for that."

He spoke to Marca on how his young sons are now old enough to understand the importance of a World Cup;

"My family is always on my mind," Messi said. 

"My children, because they are grown up and understand everything. They suffer it, they enjoy it... I am very happy to share these moments with them.

"It's my first World Cup with my children being grown up and understanding everything. For my youngest children it's the first World Cup and it's always the happiest. Thiago, who is the oldest, was not yet aware of what a World Cup is."

No comments

Powered by Blogger.