After Messi misses penalty, Argentina gets past Mexico to enter round of 16

Argentina needed a win badly to make it to the round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Argentina needed a win badly to make it to the round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup 2022. Lionel Messi, one of greatest superstars of football, who  has set his eyes on winning a World Cup for his country to repeat what Diego  Maradona did, had to pocket some disappointment before teammates saw the day through for the South Americans.

Argentina, after a disappointing 1-2 loss to Saudi Arabia in its opener, has managed to win the remaining two games to finish at the top of the group to qualify for the knockout stage.

While Argentina scored twice in the second half, in between Lionel Messi failed to put a penalty to optimum use to the great disappointment of  Argentinian fans. In a game they needed to win to advance at the World Cup, Argentina had seen Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny deny their talisman Lionel Messi from the spot at the Stadium 974 on Wednesday night.

Szczesny’s 38th-minute save after Argentina had been utterly dominant meant both teams were goalless at halftime. Disappointed at missing the penalty in the first half, Argentina had the consolation of taking the lead early in the second half to the great relief of its fans. Interestingly,  it took Argentina just a minute into the second half to take the lead, Alexis Mac Allister turning in a cross from the left in a move that started straight from kick-off.

Once they had  taken the lead\, there was no looking back for  Argentina.  Julian Alvarez showed great control and shot to add a second on 67 minutes, sending thousands of Argentina fans at the venue, made up of 974 shipping containers wild with joy. Incidentally, 974 is also the International Subscribers Dialling (ISD) code for Qatar.

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Argentina could’ve got more goals but the 2-0 victory kept alive Messi’s dream of emulating the legendary Diego Maradona by guiding the Albiceleste to the World Cup title. It also saw Argentina finish top of Group ‘C’, setting up a last-16 clash with Australia.

Holders France, who suffered a shock 0-1 defeat at hands of Tunisia, will meet Poland, who qualified by the skin of their teeth as runners-up behind Argentina thanks to a late goal by Saudi Arabia, who lost 2-1 to Mexico in the other group game at the Lusail Stadium. Even after losing to Tunisia, defending champions France managed to finish at the top of the group.

Poland finished level on points with the Mexicans but advanced on virtue of goal difference.Henry Martin headed the opener for the Mexicans after a corner in the 47th minute before Luis Chavez got their second five minutes later with a stunning free-kick only for Salem Al Dawsari to pull a goal back for Saudi Arabia.

The round robin group matches will end on Friday as 40 of the 48 matches have already been completed.

Canada, Qatar,  Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Denmark are among the teams who are already on their way back home.

 

 

Prabhjot Singh

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