Lionel Andrés Messi made his 1000th senior career appearance last night and was also on the score sheet as Argentina secured a 2:1 victory over Australia in a World Cup Round of 16.
Australia manager Graham Arnold, who is well known for his defensive setup presented a very strong lineup to ensure his side put the breaks on the Argentine attack. But Messi who was making his 1000th senior career appearance on the night had a different idea on breaking down the socceroos strong defense.
The seven times Ballon D’Or winner opened the scoring just inside the 35th minute after the Ausies failed to clear their lines from his free kick.
Graham Arnold’s side quickly started to play on the front foot with the hope that they would get the equalizer before the half-time break but the Albiceleste defense weathered the storm. The two sides went into the break with Argentina leading 1:0 courtesy Messi’s brilliant strike.
Lionel Sebastian Scaloni the manager for the Argentines, quickly effected a change and brought on Lisandro Martínez for Papu Gómez in order to protect his one goal.
The Ausies dream for an equalizer was shuttered in the 57th minute as Julian Álvarez pounced on a mistake by goalkeeper Mathew Ryan after the shot stopper failed to deal with a back pass from his defense and made it 2:0 in favor of Argentina.
Australia had nothing to lose again, Graham Arnold quickly made two changes and brought on Craig Goodwin and Ajdin Hrustic to make sure his side at least equalized and take the game into extra time.
His changes swiftly changed the flow of the game and put Argentina on the back foot due to the incessant attack from Australia.
The Ausies pulled one back in the 77th minute courtesy Enzo Fernández’s own goal.
The game became very open where any goal from Australia would take the match into extra time. Scaloni brought on two defensive minded players to come in to protect their 2:1 lead and ensure Australia do not equalize.
Emiliano Martínez was called into the party at the dying embers of the game as he put his body on the line to stop a goal scoring opportunity to deny the Ausies an equalizer.
The last minute pressure from the Ausies saw several of the Argentine supporters on their feet hoping the referee would whistle to end the game.
The supporters finally took a breath of relief as referee Szymon Marciniak from Poland blew his whistle and brought the game to an end.
Messi’s 1000th appearance has come as a result of featuring 778 times for Barcelona, 169 times for Argentina and 53 times for Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi has scored nine times in FIFA World Cup tournaments: once in 2006, four times in 2014, when he guided his team to the final, being awarded the Golden Ball for best player, once in 2018 and thrice in 2022. He is now the all time top scorer for Argentina in the World Cup.
The Argentine captain has now scored 94 International goals in his career after making his debut for the national team in 2005.
The dream of the Albiceleste to win the World Cup is still on course. They will play Netherlands who earlier defeated the United States of America 3:1 at the quarter finals stage.
How many Quarter Finals has Argentina made?
The eighth edition of the FIFA World Cup was held in England in July of 1966 FIFA World Cup.
Argentina advanced to the knockout after finishing second in Group 2 with West Germany, Spain, and Switzerland. But they ended up suffering a disappointing 0-1 loss to England at Wembley to be knocked out of the tournament.
The 1998 FIFA World Cup was held in France in June, and for the first time, 32 teams participated in the World Cup. Placed in Group H with Croatia, Jamaica, and Japan, Argentina had won all their three group matches and qualified for the Round of 16 with nine points from three games.
The albicelestes defeated England on penalties but ended up suffering a 1-2 loss to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.
Argentina was knocked out of the quarter-finals twice and back-to-back by Germany at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups.
The hosts eliminated Argentina on penalties in the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup and advanced to the semi-finals.
Four years later, Germany pipped Argentina 4-0 in the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals and knocked them out of the tournament, again.