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World Cup 2022: Argentina after beating Australia in the quarterfinals

Football World Cup Qatar, Day 14
Messi conjures, Argentina trembles: Narrow victory against Australia – Oranje sovereign against USA

Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Australia

© Francois Nel / Getty Images

In the 1000th competitive game of his career, Lionel Messi led Argentina to the quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over Australia. There the Netherlands are waiting, who were able to assert themselves 3:1 against the USA.

Led by Lionel Messi with his first knockout goal at a World Cup in 1,000 professional games, Argentina have reached the quarter-finals. The South American superstar scored the lead in the 35th minute of a tough game on Saturday against the surprise team from Australia, who put in more effort in the 2-1 (1-0) victory for the Argentines than the title favorites would have liked.

Messi initially acted in the center of attack at his next World Cup show, but quickly fell behind against the deeply defending Australians, where St. Pauli’s second division professional Jackson Irvine saw a yellow card after fifteen minutes. Patience was required.

2-1 v Australia: Messi leads Argentina to quarterfinals

Behind the Australians’ goal, there wasn’t much to celebrate for a few hundred fans in yellow – except that coach Graham Arnold’s team made it difficult for the Argentines to play in the beginning. Even after 30 minutes, the South Americans didn’t get a shot at the goal of captain Mathew Ryan, who, like Leckie, played his tenth World Cup game – more than any other Australian before.

Already in the 2-0 win against Poland, the Argentines had to make the game, the opponent remembered to defend. Australia acted similarly, but better than the team around star striker Robert Lewandowski, who have to play against world champions France on Sunday. Australia made it smarter. And the furious Messi, who delivered a jersey plucking on the outside line with Australia’s Aziz Behich. This same Behich immediately fouled Gomez – there was a free kick, executed by Messi, as in previous games clearly the best man in his team.

The Australians, who had been flawless defensively up to that point, couldn’t get the ball out of the danger zone and Alexis Mac Allister found the ball at the moved-up central defender Nicolás Otamendi. He applauded, and then Messi came. A flat flick with the left, like out of the Messi textbook, into the far corner. He stretched his hands up, the stadium became a sky blue and white bouncy castle.

The Argentinians didn’t have much of the force of the game against Poland this time. It was more the motto: don’t catch anyone in the back and the captain will do it in front, who is appearing very differently in Qatar these days than in his sometimes listless performances at the World Cup embarrassment of Russia. For the second goal, however, Messi was just a spectator when Australia keeper Ryan made a capital error and lost the ball to Álvarez six meters from goal. The decision.

With the constant singing of tens of thousands of fans in Argentinian jerseys, it was now possible to play more freely. The fact that Scaloni took out the weak offensive man Gómez and brought in another defender in Lisandro Martínez only paid off to a limited extent. After Goodwin’s shot, which Fernández unluckily deflected into his own goal, Argentina wobbled, but only briefly. Again and again it was Messi who shone with his skills and put his team-mates in the limelight. The ball just didn’t want to go into the goal again.

Netherlands 3-1 USA

The much-criticized Louis van Gaal celebrated with the Netherlands the entry into the quarter-finals of the football World Cup and increased the delicate hopes of Oranje for the title. After a performance that was clarified over long stretches, Elftal only had to worry about progressing 3-1 (2-0) against a passionately fighting US selection on Saturday. Twelve years after the last World Cup final at the tournament in South Africa, Holland is hoping to take part in the final on December 18 – but van Gaal’s ensemble cannot afford to falter, as in the second half against the USA. Opponents in Friday’s quarterfinals are either Lionel Messi and Argentina or Australia.

In the first and not very atmospheric round of 16 on Saturday in the Chalifa International Stadium, van Gaal was delighted on his coaching bench with the goals played, some of which were very impressive – and that he had shown it to the critics of his style of play. The weak phase after the break should have annoyed him.

Memphis Depay (10th minute), Daley Blind (45+1) and the outstanding Denzel Dumfries (81st) documented the difference between a real title contender and a talented but not yet mature national team with their goals in front of 44,846 fans. The young US selection around goalscorer Haji Wright (76th) then showed what mentality is in them – and came back into the game impressively. In doing so, she aroused anticipation at home with high ratings for the World Cup in four years, which she is hosting together with Mexico and Canada.

The Americans around the star Christian Pulisic, who recovered in time, put in a committed performance, but after the effective goal to make it 0-1, they were only able to make a decisive impression in the final phase, despite some good advances and opportunities. With the effectiveness of the Dutch, who have been unbeaten since van Gaal took office in September 2021, more would have been possible.

The fact that Daley Blind increased to 2:0 before half-time and thus decided the game early fitted perfectly into van Gaal’s strategy. Blind, who has been playing with a pacemaker since late 2019, celebrated only his third goal in his 98th international match in the arms of Wout Weghorst.

Pulisic, who suffered a bruised pelvis in the celebrated 1-0 winning goal against Iran, was able to set the tone after a big missed chance against goalkeeper Andries Noppert in his fourth international match (3rd). Intensively worked by Jurrien Timber, the ex-Dortmunder could not develop as in the previous games. His colleagues like Tim Ream (52nd), Weston McKennie (54th) or Wright (75th) appeared dangerously up front – but in the end the callousness was too often missing.

Berhalter, who was a professional in the Netherlands in the 1990s, tried to turn things around again with changes – including Dortmund’s Giovanni Reyna – and, like last time in 2002, reached the quarter-finals. On the other side, Matt Turner kept his team in the game, but the Dutch also played their attacks sloppily to the end.

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DPA

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