DOHA : Sublime strikes by Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernandez earned Argentina a 2-0 win over dogged Mexico in a pulsating atmosphere at the Lusail Stadium on Saturday.
The result breathes new life into the South American side’s World Cup campaign after they suffered a stunning defeat in their Group C opener against Saudi Arabia.
Argentina knew defeat would send them out of the tournament but still started poorly, struggling to cope with Mexico’s high press as Messi was denied time and space to operate.
Messi broke the deadlock in the 64th minute, arrowing a low shot through a crowd of defenders into the corner, equalling Diego Maradona’s Argentina record of 21 matches and eight goals at the World Cup. The Argentinian fans who made up the majority of this 88,966-strong crowd erupted. More than 5,000 Argentina fans already live in Qatar.
Enzo Fernandez sealed the victory in the 87th minute with a wonderful arcing strike. From an Argentinian corner won on the left side, Fernandez was able to slalom himself towards the top left of the box – before unleashing a strike of some quality which curled into the top right of the goal. In doing so, Fernandez became the youngest player to score at a World Cup for Argentina – since Messi himself, in 2006.
“Today starts another World Cup for Argentina,” Messi said. “I tell people the same thing, that they continue to believe.
“The first half we didn’t play as we should and in the second, when we calmed down, we started to play the ball better and until the goal we went back to being what we are.”
https://4a711c3b556a6f0a034223665e0631af.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-40/html/container.html Mexico, who have now lost all four of their World Cup clashes with Argentina, have one point and must beat Saudi Arabia, on three, to have any chance of making the Round of 16, as they have in the past seven World Cups.
With the prospect of an Argentina elimination ahead of this game, tensions were high on and off the ball in a scrappy first half – but with the two sets of fans creating an electric atmosphere inside and outside the stadium. Al Jazeera with AP pix
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