35-year-old captain Lionel Messi is likened to a “superman” when helping Argentina beat the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the 2022 World Cup on the evening of December 9.
Lionel Messi lit up the Lusail pitch with an unseeing slit for Nahuel Molina to score his first Argentina goal, in the 35th minute. During the dribble, Messi just looked down at the ball, before passing it with precision. Just in time, Molina rushed down to score.
FIFA called Messi’s assist “unthinkable”, while CBS reporter Ben Jacobs commented: “Another magic from Messi”.
Messi went to the 2022 World Cup without scoring in the knockout stages, but he did score in both the round of 16 and the quarter-finals in Qatar. In the 73rd minute, he took a penalty kick to the right corner to deceive goalkeeper Andries Noppert, making it 2-0.
“Messi waited a long time before choosing an angle to shoot,” Noppert said in a press conference after the game. “And when he picked the corner, I just stood there watching the ball go into the net. That’s Messi’s level. Hats off to him.”
Towards the end of the match, the game heated up and there was a scuffle between the players. In the 88th minute, midfielder Leandro Paredes made a series of fouls, then kicked the ball into the Dutch technical area.
All Dutch reserve players ran in to lose with the Argentinian midfielder. Van Dijk ran to the front and shoved Paredes down. Journalist Sean Ingle from the Guardian commented: “Paredes is lucky to escape the red card”.
But no need to play more people, the Netherlands still scored two consecutive goals to equalize 2-2. Their second goal came from a methodical free kick arrangement. Midfielder Teun Koopmeiners passed the ball for striker Wout Weghorst to press and then turned to shoot a diagonal shot to score a brace.
The Daily Mail commented that this goal “is like a Dutch free kick exercise, when the match is only in seconds”.
The brace of the 1.97 m tall striker Weghorst helped the Netherlands “return from the dead”. Messi showed disapproval when the Netherlands only played long, high balls in the last minutes, even though coach Louis van Gaal said before the match that he would play real football.
After two extra time without a goal, the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup once again had to be a penalty shootout.
Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk beat Messi in a coin toss, and he immediately chose the right to kick first. The Liverpool center-back hugged the ball and put it on the 11-meter mark, then stepped back to gain momentum when the referee was still explaining the rules to the goalkeepers. Van Dijk ran up to shoot to the left corner, but goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez flew out of reach to push the ball away.
“During training, we all kicked in, until today,” Van Dijk said after the game.
Martinez failed to make a single save in 120 minutes, but he blocked both Van Dijk and Steven Berghuis’ penalty kicks.
In the 2021 Copa America semi-finals, Martinez also pushed out three Colombian penalties, then helped Argentina win its first title in 28 years. The 30-year-old goalkeeper made his debut for the national team last year.
At the end of the match with 18 yellow cards, the Argentine player turned to the Netherlands and shouted mockingly. And the players in orange shirt were lost, some people hugged their faces and collapsed on the field. The Netherlands has yet to win the World Cup despite reaching the final three times in 1974, 1978 and 2010.
Lautaro Martinez’s decisive penalty shot gave Argentina a choking victory, because the two teams would have to play the sixth leg if Lautaro missed.
New Argentina 22/2023 Season Jerseys