DOHA: In the 51st minute of a tense, cagey game against Mexico, Argentina received a free-kick in prime Lionel Messi territory.
Needing a win to keep their hopes alive, Argentina were looking to their talisman to provide them with a moment of magic at the Lusail Stadium packed with 88,966 spectators.
This wasn’t it. Messi blazed over, and the moment hordes of Argentina fans were waiting for came 12 minutes later.
Messi was found on the edge of the box by Angel Maria and the 35-year-old took a touch before unleashing a left-foot shot that went into the back of the net.
This was priceless; a lifeline to hang onto especially after Argentina had been stunned in their Group ‘C’ opener by Saudi Arabia at this very venue.
Mexico had shown good value for a win in the first half but Argentina had all the momentum now and sealed a 2-0 win when Enzo Fernandez curled in an inch-perfect finish three minutes from time.
It means Argentina head into their last group game against Poland, where a win would definitely see them progress to the last 16, but a draw may also be enough.
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2022