FIFA World Cup: Argentina qualifies for quarter-finals after defeating Australia 2-1

Photo: AFP

Doha: Argentina qualified for the quarter-finals after defeating Australia 2-1 in their round of 16 campaign at the Al Rayyan Stadium on Saturday.

With a flourish of his famous left foot in the 34th minute, Messi put Argentina ahead with his third goal at this year's tournament and ninth in total at the World Cup — one more than Diego Maradona. Julián Álvarez pounced on a heavy touch by Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan to tap into an empty net for the second goal as Argentina set up a meeting with the Netherlands in the quarterfinals. Australia scored a 77th-minute consolation goal when Craig Goodwin’s shot deflected into the net off midfielder Enzo Fernandez.

In the first half, Argentina struggled to break the deadlock as Australia sat back with a defensive shape. However, Messi curled a ball into the back of the net in the 35th minute to register his first goal in a World Cup knock-out stage. The kickoff saw Argentina dominating from the beginning as they took control of the ball and displayed great skill to take control of the midfield. Messi was targeted by the Aussie players who had him surrounded by their defenders for reasons known to mankind.

In the 4th minute, Gomez’s cross from the left hit what looked like the outstretched hand of an Australian defender just inside the penalty area. However, the referee refused to entertain the call for a penalty despite a video replay showing the ball coming in contact with an outstretched hand. Australia started to sit back and comfortably play from behind, while Argentina is looking for ways to open up the deep defensive line. Di Maria's absence was visible from the start, with Papu Gomez struggling to link up play with Messi. Meanwhile, Julián Álvarez made a few beautiful runs through the middle but failed in front of the goal. However, Argentina finally found the opener in the 35th minute through Messi. Despite being covered by several Australian bodies, Messi found the right amount of space to curl home the opener.

Messi was behind the entire build-up play leading to the goal. After delivering a cross, Messi collected the rebound from the box and passed the ball to Mac Allister on the edge of the box. He fed it to De Paul and he returned it to Messi. PSG striker then sent a curling shot into the bottom corner to register his ninth World Cup goal, which puts him one away from Gabriel Batistuta’s record for Argentina.

Argentina started strong in the second half, with Lionel Messi registering a shot on target in the 51st minute. However, Australia placed Argentina under pressure, with Emi Martinez nearly robbed by Mitchell Duke while trying to clear the ball. Martinez’s clearance brushed Duke’s boot and went out of play. Argentina missed several chances to add more to their tally.

Minutes later, Argentina scored the second goal through Julian Alvarez from a sloppy defensive error. A poor back ball from Rowles placed the Australian goalkeeper under pressure as two Argentinian attackers charged at him. Unable to clear the ball, he was intercepted by Alvarez on the right side, who side-stepped to knock the ball past him into the net. However, bounced back from the setback by finding a goal through an own goal by Fernandez in the 77th minute. outside the box on the left side, he invariably hits the ball at Fernandez. Craig Goodwin's strike from outside the box on the left side deflected off Fernandez and into the back of the net.

Add Comment
Related Topics

Get daily updates from

Disclaimer: Kindly avoid objectionable, derogatory, unlawful and lewd comments, while responding to reports. Such comments are punishable under cyber laws. Please keep away from personal attacks. The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of readers and not that of Mathrubhumi.