Ar-Rayyan: Argentina stormed into the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup after defeating Australia 2-1 in a thrilling Round of 16 clash at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Sunday.
Argentina changed their strategy immediately after the break, switching to a three-man defence after taking a one-goal lead in the first half. They scored their second goal as a result of the tactical switch as they caused Matt Ryan to make a terrible error. It was Julian Alvarez who profited from it. The Argentine became the third player to score a goal in consecutive World Cup matches for Argentina in the 21st century.
Everything appeared to be going smoothly until Goodwin's long shot struck Argentine Enzo Fernandez and went directly into the goal to give Australia their first goal of the match.
The second half began with Argentina in attack mode, with Messi once again on the foray in the 50th minute. He shot from the edge of the box while falling over but lacked the power to burst through the goalkeeper.
The South American team built pressure on Australia by pressing forward and forcing them into making errors.
Argentina needed no gift but were offered one in the 57th minute as Julian Alvarez embraced it and punished the Aussie team. Rowles sends the ball back to Ryan in danger due to a breakdown in communication at the back. The Australian goalie made a mistake with two Argentine players creating pressure prodding forward, giving the ball to Alvarez, who skillfully finished netting the ball.
It seemed done and dusted for Australia, trailing by two goals but they found the back of the net in the 77th minute through Argentina's own goal.
Australia had their tails up after that and created chances to score. However, the team lacked the finesse to finish properly.
They had a peach of an opportunity in the additional time but the chance went begging after Garang Mawien Kuol fired a superb shot but was stopped by the Argentine goalkeeper.
Argentina too had opportunities to seal the game through Lautaro Martinez but the striker failed on several occasions.
The game ended with Argentina sealing a berth in the quarterfinals. Argentina will lock horns with the Netherlands on December 10 for a place in the semi-finals. The Dutch team thumped USA 3-1 earlier.
Lionel Messi proved his mettle once again as he scored for Argentina to give them a 1-0 lead against Australia at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in a Round of 16 encounter.
The football maestro scored his 9th goal of the World Cup to surpass legend Diego Maradona, who had 8 goals to his name in the World Cup. It was also the Argentine's first goal in the knockout stage. The goal made him the second-highest scorer for Argentina in World Cups, only one goal behind Gabriel Batistuta.
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.
Talismanic forward Lionel Messi was targeted by the Aussie players who had him surrounded by their defenders for reasons known to mankind.
Alexis Mac Allister was a live wire for Argentina with the South Americans dominating with the ball. Australia managed to keep Argentina out of the box for quite some time with the South Americans always within the control of the ball. They enjoyed an 83.33 per cent possession in the first 10 minutes.
Messi was prodding forward every now and then but the Argentine was kept in check by the Aussie defenders.
Australia ran into the box in the 19th minute through Aziz Behich but was kept at bay by a solid Argentina defence line.
The 2021 Copa Americans enjoyed greater possession but the Aussie team were not intimated and kept their composure to finally had a chance at scoring in the 29th minute.
Glances were exchanged between Messi and Behich as both played ferociously to take control of the ball. They got into a confrontation which had to be resolved by the referee.
But this little exchange fuelled the Argentine and cost the Aussies a goal as Messi scored in the 35th minute. The Paris Saint-German (PSG) star blasted a fine low curling shot from inside the box to beat Australia goalkeeper Ryan to give Argentina a 1-0 lead.
The first half came to an end with the crowd going berserk with cheers of Messi echoing throughout the stadium and Argentina leading Australia 1-0.
Argentina will be favourites going into the second half having taken a one-goal lead and being ranked third in the world in contrast to Australia who are ranked 38th.