Lionel Messi’s terrific second-half strike on Saturday (November 26) evening saw Argentina register their first win of the FIFA World Cup 2022. Messi and Co who had little margin for error going into the contest made sure of the three points and now sit second in Group C. Endo Fernandez’s put the icing on the cake in the 87th minute that saw the South American giants walk away with the points and will now look to seal a place in the Round of 16.
Messi magic for Argentina
Argentina came into the game knowing defeat would mean elimination after their shock 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia and they laboured again until Messi's 65th-minute intervention. The 35-year-old, playing at what is expected to be his last World Cup, picked up Angel Di Maria's pass outside the box and arrowed a precise shot into the bottom corner to break the deadlock in a scrappy and ill-tempered encounter.
Messi then turned provider as Argentina made the game safe three minutes from time, his pass finding substitute Enzo Fernandez who cut inside and curled a sumptuous finish past Guillermo Ochoa. The victory looked unlikely at times during a game disrupted by constant fouls and featuring little in the way of quality, but it takes Argentina up to second in Group C, a point behind Poland, who they face in their final game as they bid to clinch their place in the last 16.
Mexico looked more threatening in the first period, but, like Argentina, they struggled to produce any real moments of quality, with an Alexis Vega free-kick, comfortably saved by Emi Martinez, the only effort on target from either side before the interval.
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Permutations in Group C
Having avoided a defeat to Mexico which would have ended their World Cup participation, Argentina have their Group C destiny in their own hands again. Victory against Poland on Wednesday night will guarantee not only their progression but also put them in pole position to advance as group winners - to deny them top spot in that scenario, Saudi Arabia would not only need to beat Mexico but also win by a larger margin than Argentina.