Lusail. Lionel Messi’s World Champion hopes were fueled when Argentina squandered a two-goal lead to beat the Netherlands 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out to seal a place in the World Cup semi-finals on Friday. Messi converted his penalty in the shootout while Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved two Netherlands attempts. Lautaro Martinez scored the decisive penalty for Argentina.
The match went to a penalty shootout after the match was tied 2–2 in extra time. Messi scored a goal in the match, having previously assisted on one goal. The Netherlands scored in the 11th minute of injury time in the second half to force the match into extra time. Argentina will face Croatia in the semi-finals on Tuesday, having beaten Brazil 4-2 on penalties in another quarter-final. How desperate Messi was to win the match can be gauged from his aggressive attitude.
He was seen fuming at his rival players and did not even spare the referee. Messi’s immense collection of achievements does not include the World Cup trophy. When Lautaro Martinez scored the decisive goal in the penalty shootout, Messi did not run towards the striker and sprinted past the goalkeeper in his arms. Messi later said that we were harmed but in the end we were able to move on. Aggression was also seen in the behavior of the players of both the teams in the match, due to which a total of 17 yellow cards were shown, which is a record in the World Cup.
Netherlands defender Denzel Dumfries received two yellow cards which saw him sent off. Messi also received a yellow card. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni branded the match “ugly” while Messi criticized Spain’s referee Antonio Mateu. He said that I do not think his work meets the criteria. He was harmful to us. This type of attitude from Messi is rarely seen. He was also seen on the field after the match shouting at Wot Weghorst, who scored two goals for the Netherlands.
Messi and his teammates celebrated on the field for 20 minutes after the end of the game. Messi said that the late Diego Maradona is watching him. Messi said about former Argentina captain and coach Maradona that he is watching us from heaven. He is encouraging us. Hope it stays like this till the end. Maradona passed away two years ago. This is only the second time since 1990 that Argentina has managed to make it to the last four of the World Cup. In 2014, Messi was part of the team that lost to Germany in the final.
Messi put on a wonderful show of skill in the 35th minute to set up a goal for Nahuel Molina and then converted a penalty in the 73rd minute to give Argentina a 2-0 lead. This was his fourth goal in the current World Cup. He has scored a total of 10 goals in all World Cups and has equaled Gabriel Batistuta’s Argentine record. Come in the name of Messi, 94 goals have been registered in 169 international matches.
Netherlands’ Wot Weghorst, coming on as a substitute in the 78th minute, scored his first goal in the fifth minute and then scored in the last minute of injury time to force the match into extra time. Just when it looked like Argentina would win the match, the Netherlands were awarded a free kick which was skilfully passed by Tuun Koopminers to Weghorst, who headed home equally cleverly. Enzo Fernandes was the only Argentine player not to score in the penalty shootout. He also missed a goal in extra time. This defeat of the Netherlands also ended the third term of 71-year-old Louis Van Gaal. Argentina defenders Marcus Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel will miss the semi-finals after receiving two yellow cards in the tournament.