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Vintage Messi Sees Argentina Past Australia On 1000th Appearance

Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to a narrow 2 - 1 win over Australia at the Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium in the last 16 of the 2022 World Cup.

After a cagey start with few chances in the opening half an hour, Messi took matters into his own hands.

Nicolas Otamendi layed off a pass to him just inside the penalty area and he took a tiny, signature Messi touch before rolling a shot past three defenders and the goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

Messi himself had started the move by bringing the ball inside for Alejandro Gomez who had then helped it on to Otamendi. The finish was applied so casually by Argentina’s number 10, he made it look easy.

Aside from Messi’s magic, there wasn’t much to shout about in the first-half. After the break however was a different story.

Australia, not really by choice, had to make a more open game of it and it really opened up. It was their goalkeeper however that cost them the second goal.

Julian Alvarez was on hand to capitalise, much to the delight of the Manchester City admin.

Australia then made a double change, bringing on Craig Goodwin and Adjin Hrustic, which lit up the game.

A couple of balls into the box from set pieces caused Argentina some problems and made them look uncomfortable despite their 2 - 0 lead.

With thirteen minutes of the ninety to go Craig Goodwin had a shot from 22 yards which was sailing miles wide. A huge deflection off of Enzo Fernandez took it in for an own goal, but Australia didn’t seem to care where the goal came from.

Just moments later, Dundee United left-back Aziz Behich chanelled his inner-Messi and beat four Argentina players with a spellbinding run.

It took a world class challenge from Lisandro Martinez to deny him a famous equaliser.

As Australia tried to push for an equaliser though they were vulnerable at the other end.

Substitute Lautaro Martinez, searching for his first World Cup goal, had four shots on goal in the closing stages but couldn’t find the net.

His second chance especially was a glaring miss, the Inter Milan striker firing over from eight yards out after being picked out masterfully by Lionel Messi.

Messi had another couple of chances himself towards the end, narrowly missing the top corner from the edge of the penalty area in the 93rd minute.

The biggest chance in stoppage time though fell to Australian substitute Garang Kuol.

A deflected cross fell to the teenager who shot well on the turn but found himself closed down brilliantly by Emiliano Martinez.

That was the end of it for Australia, with the full-time whistle going a few seconds later when Martinez cleared the ball.

It was a spirited attempt from the Aussie team, but their wait for a World Cup quarter-final goes on.

For Argentina, it was another masterclass from their magician that took them into the last 8.

Whilst Marcos Acuna and Julian Alvarez were impressive, no one was quite as good as Lionel Messi.

In fact no one has been that good in any game of this tournament so far.

Every single time he was on the ball in the second-half he was taking on opponents and driving forward. Not only did he threaten himself but he inspired his teammates to do the same.

In what was his 100th game as captain of the national team he scored his 789th goal in 1000 career appearances for clubs and country.

After their stunning display, Argentina will now take on the Netherlands who beat the USA 3 - 1 earlier today.

It really was a great effort from Australia tonight, and they can go out of this World Cup with their heads held high.

But as he has been for so many in the past 20 years, Messi was simply too good for them.

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