Lionel Messi rose to the occasion one more time on his 1,000th professional football game to keep alive his country’s world cup winning hopes. It was also his 100th game as captain of the Argentina national team.
The “magician” finally scored his first knockout goal in the World Cup in his fifth tournament. With a 2-1 victory over Australia in the second round, Argentina took another step toward ending its 36-year wait for World Cup glory.
After a tense first 30 minutes, Messi scored the first goal. From there on, things went pretty smoothly at a very lively Ahmad bin Ali Stadium. Until the brave Australians scored a goal late in the game, which gave Argentina a huge scare.
The Argentines will now play the Dutch in a very exciting quarterfinal, with the hopes of a nation again resting on their number 10.
Messi said this after he scored the 789th goal of his career: “I’m glad to have made another step forward and reached another goal. It was a tough and very strong match.”
Lionel Messi leaves the crowd stunned
“Muchachos, ahora nos volvimo’ an ilusionar.”
Back home, everyone is singing the Argentina song.
Players were caught on video chanting it, and fans sang the lyrics, which mean “Boys, now we’re excited again,” before, during, and after the game.
Albiceleste fans jumped up and down on the metro and in the stands singing it over and over, and Messi, who is 35 years old, gave them a master class.
People around Ahmad bin Ali took sharp breaths every time the dimunitive forward got his boot on the ball, and he rocked the stadium with a great first goal.
When the ball fell to him inside the box, there was only one thing to do. He calmly put the ball into the far corner to get Argentina going.
At the end of the game, fans chanted “Messi, Messi, Messi,” and he joined his teammates to celebrate.
Messi’s goal was big because it was his first in a World Cup knockout round. But with nine goals, he is only one goal short of Gabriel Batistuta, who holds the record for Argentina.
Against Australia, he made 90% of his passes, took four chances, and touched the ball nine times in their area.
Is this a repeat of 1986?
Argentina is going for a third world title under Lionel Scaloni. The last time Argentina won the World Cup was in 1986 when Diego Maradona led them to victory.
As you walked out of the stadium, you could see a sea of Argentina number 10 shirts with Messi and Maradona’s names on the backs.
Gary Lineker, who now works for the BBC and uses to be a striker for England, played against Maradona in 1986. In a famous quarterfinal, the first goal was scored by an Argentina star who punched the ball into the goal.
Messi’s world cup numbers
Messi beat Roberto Ayala to become the oldest Argentine to score a goal in a World Cup knockout game.
He is only one of six players in all five World Cups.
He is the second player after Roger Milla to score at least three World Cup goals after turning 35.