The tension of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was released for Argentina.
With goals from Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernández, Argentina defeated Mexico 2–0 on Saturday in Lusail to advance to the second round of Group C, releasing the tension that had followed the shocking World Cup opening loss to Saudi Arabia.
Lionel Scaloni’s under pressure team did not hide their anxiety throughout the first half, but they relied on their legendary hero to escape the suffocation: a day after Diego Maradona’s passing completed two years, Messi matched the idol in games (21) and goals (eight) at the World Cups.
The round of 16 was within reach of Argentina with just a win over Poland, and more significantly, Messi left Argentina in that position.
How It Stands
Argentina moves up from last place in Group C to second with three points, one more than Saudi Arabia, but with a better goal differential (1 against -1).
Poland is in first place with four goals, while Mexico is in last place but needs to beat Arabia by a score of four goals or more to advance.
The last round will take place on Wednesday at 4 p.m., featuring Argentina vs. Poland and Mexico vs. Saudi Arabia.
Messi Against Mexico
When this Cup was under the most duress, it was a memorable night for the player wearing number 10.
The beast in Messi was reserved in the first half, but he made up for it with an outstanding goal that started the scoring and brought relief to the Argentine national team.
The star and the legendary Maradona were tied in games (21) and goals (eight) during the Cups match on Saturday against Mexico.
Argentina vs Mexico first half
There was an aura of tension. With special focus on Messi, of course, Argentina and Mexico played cautiously in the first half in an effort to maintain possession of the ball and contain their adversaries’ key offensive players. Lionel Scaloni’s team attempted to invest more on the sides with five substitutions, with Montiel and Acua attempting to support the Messi/Di Maria/Lautaro Martnez trio, but with few opportunities due to strong opposition marking. There was no fear on the part of Tata Martino’s team; in fact, the finest opportunity came from Mexico, in the form of a free kick that was taken by Vega and outstandingly defended by “Dibu” Martnez. The first half was, overall, livelier off the field than it was on it, with parties and some confusion from the two fans. Only six finishes, three on each side, brought any emotion.
Argentina vs Mexico second half
In the sixth minute, Messi was given a free kick at the edge of the area, which is where he usually takes them, but he missed it. The Mexican team’s tactics were more obvious after the 15th minute: low lines, very tight, and crowding Messi’s area of operation; in front, however, Lozano and Vega were left to defend themselves against the defenders, with limited success. By substituting Enzo Fernández for Guido Rodrguez, Scaloni attempted to raise the caliber of the Argentine midfield. The promising Julian Lvarez became available after Lautaro Martnez left.
The tactics, however, came to a stop when Messi collected a pass from Di Mara in the 18th minute, stood at the edge of the box, and in one of the rare seconds that he was uninterrupted, fired a shot into Ochoa’s left corner, rewarding the goalkeeper with five Cups, just like himself. Mexico was upset by the goal.