• Sun. Dec 10th, 2023

Lionel Messi scores his first World Cup knockout goal as Argentina defeats Australia 2-1 to go to the quarterfinals

ByJosh Taylor

Dec 4, 2022

Messi’s 789th goal in his 1,000th career game – but his first in the World Cup knockout rounds – helped set up a last-eight meeting with the undefeated Netherlands on Friday.
Messi scored the first goal in Argentina’s 2-1 triumph against Australia on Saturday, sending the team into the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time.Messi’s 789th goal in his 1,000th career game – but his first in the World Cup knockout rounds – helped set up a last-eight meeting with the undefeated Netherlands on Friday. After some dreadful Australian defence, Julian Alvarez scored the opposite goal in the 57th minute, before Enzo Fernandez’s 77th-minute own goal set up an unexpectedly tense finish. One of the greatest players of all time, now 35, is attempting to win the tournament for the first time in what will almost certainly be his final World Cup.
Messi’s superb first-half goal, bending the ball into the bottom corner, shattered the resistance and, eventually, the hearts of a brave Australian team that defied all predictions and went down fighting in Qatar.
Australia’s yellow-shirted supporters were significantly outnumbered by Argentina’s noisy, screaming, and bouncing supporters in the 45,000-capacity Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Back in Australia, where fans had to get up before dawn to watch the game live on television, the Sydney Opera House was illuminated in green and gold.
Their team were massive underdogs; few anticipated them to even make it this far in the competition, but this has been a World Cup of surprises.
Argentina suffered possibly the biggest upset in Qatar when they were defeated 2-1 by Saudi Arabia in their opening encounter.
But there would be no such thing here.
The Socceroos of Graham Arnold set out to disturb their opponents. Keanu Baccus fouled Messi, and Jackson Irvine was cautioned for colliding with left-back Marcos Acuna.
Argentina had Australia pushed back, but the Socceroos remained steadfast and grew in confidence as the first half drew on.
Messi was growing irritated as he sparred on the sidelines with Australian defender Aziz Behich.
Argentina and coach Lionel Scaloni desperately needed something exceptional, and Messi provided it 10 minutes after the interval.
Australia had only made it this far once before, in 2006, and they needed to attack in the second half.
They instead self-destructed. Just before the hour, goalkeeper and captain Mathew Ryan tried to play out of his area under under pressure from hard-running Rodrigo De Paul and was dispossessed by Alvarez.
The 22-year-old Manchester City striker snuck in, snatched the ball from Ryan, and swivelled to tap into an empty net for his second goal in two games. In irritation, Arnold slammed his dugout.
With 13 minutes remaining, the Socceroos appeared to be doomed until substitute Goodwin latched onto a loose clearance and fired a shot that hit Fernandez and ricocheted in.
Behich then went on a fantastic mazy run from left back, beating three Argentina players before Lisandro Martinez made a crucial last-ditch tackle.
Garang Kuol, a teenager, then forced Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez into a desperate save deep in injury time, before the throngs of South American fans celebrated a big victory.

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