Lionel Messi scored Argentina’s opener within the sixty fourth minute. AP
Doha: Lionel Messi helped maintain Argentina’s World Cup bid alive with the primary purpose in a 2-0 victory over Mexico on Saturday.
Defeat to outsiders Saudi Arabia of their opening Group G match in Qatar had left Argentina on the brink, realizing one other loss would spell the top of their event probabilities.
However the Albiceleste simply edged a disjointed and tetchy affair in opposition to their fellow Latin Individuals on the Lusail stadium in Doha.
And who else however the mercurial Messi must be the hero, firing house a low shot from 20 yards on 64 minutes, earlier than Enzo Fernandez added a thunderbolt second purpose for Argentina three minutes from time.
Messi’s purpose meant he tied fellow Argentine icon, the late Diego Maradona, on eight targets and 21 appearances on the World Cup for Argentina.
It got here a day after Argentines marked the second anniversary of Maradona’s loss of life.
The targets had been two uncommon moments of high quality in a poor and tense encounter the place the event appeared to get to everybody, besides seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi.
However Argentina nonetheless have to win their closing group match in opposition to Poland to ensure a spot within the knock-out phases.
The primary half was a completely fractious and forgettable affair.
Mexico’s again 5 and aggressive method left Argentina with little house or time to assemble something.
And the Mexicans by no means had sufficient gamers ahead to trigger their opponents issues when attempting to counter.
The 2 units of followers deserved a lot extra as they created a feverish environment within the Lusail Stadium that was near capability with greater than 88,000 supporters.
However even Messi might make no inroads, struggling to get on the ball and even much less so in areas the place he might trigger injury.
The perfect early likelihood noticed huge Mexico centre-back Cesar Montes stab large a devilish lifeless ball supply from Luis Chavez.
Argentina got here closest when Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa made a hash of attempting to punch away a Messi free-kick that was curling dangerously in direction of purpose.
The referee’s whistle saved Ochoa as he collapsed to the bottom claiming he was fouled.
That was one other function of the primary interval — gamers rolling round on the turf clutching their faces after imagined contact.
Alexis Vega produced Mexico’s finest effort with a fierce free-kick that Emiliano Martinez held properly within the Argentina purpose.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni wasted little time within the second half to vary issues up, bringing on three substitutes by the 63rd minute, together with Manchester Metropolis teenager Julian Alvarez for the ineffectual Lautaro Martinez.
Inside a minute, Messi discovered house simply over 20 yards from purpose to take a drilled cross from Angel Di Maria, which he cushioned with a chic first contact to then select the underside nook with a fierce low drive.
Scaloni instantly switched to a again three, bringing on centre-back Cristian Romero for winger Di Maria.
Mexico coach Gerardo Martino responded by throwing on ahead Raul Jimenez for a defender and altered to a 4-3-3 formation.
However substitute Fernandez had the ultimate say, curling a tasty strike into the highest far nook.
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