NEW DELHI: Pre-tournament favourites Argentina
are up and running after defeating Mexico
2-0 in their do-or-die Group C match of the FIFA World Cup
2022 on Sunday. Lionel Messi
and Enzo Fernandez
scored two sublime goals for the two-time champions at the Lusail stadium.
After being stunned by Saudi Arabia in their opening game, Argentina went into the game knowing that a defeat would end their campaign in Qatar. And the pressure played on them as they could not break the deadlock in the first half, which ended 0-0.
In any case, an alternate Argentina began in the final part driven by their charming captain Messi, who put them in the number one spot with a staggering strike in the 64th moment. The South American side continued to look for the subsequent objective and didn’t let the strain set free from the Mexican safeguard line. Their expectation took care of in the 87th moment when substitute Fernandez scored through a delightful twisting shot.
The success kept Argentina’s desires to advance into the following round alive as they climbed to the second spot in the gathering standings with three places, in front of Saudi Arabia on objective distinction. Poland are on top with four places, and Mexico are at fourth with one point after the second round of matches.
Messi, who equalled Diego Maradona
‘s Argentina record of 21 World Cup matches, was nowhere to be seen for more than an hour before picking up an Angel Di Maria pass, finding just enough space and rifling in with his left foot from 20 metres.
Substitute Fernandez made sure of the three points when he curled a superb shot into the top corner in the 87th minute.
Mexico’s high pressing game stifled most of their opponents’ attack and Argentine talisman Messi
struggled to find any space to manoeuvre in a congested midfield.
Apart from a Lautaro Martinez effort that was well off the mark and another from Messi, Argentina were toothless up front.
But in a major blow to Mexico, skipper Andres Guardado, a veteran of five World Cups who until then had been a commanding presence in midfield, had to be taken off injured in the 42nd.
The Mexicans still carved out two more chances before the break with Alexis Vega first curling a free kick over the wall for keeper Emiliano Martinez to save and minutes later thundering a shot over the bar.
The South Americans looked more determined after the break but had no real chance before their 35-year-old captain dragged them out of trouble with his second goal of the tournament.
The stadium erupted in cheers once more with Fernandez’s late strike which sealed Argentina’s first win in the tournament and rekindled Messi’s hopes of a first ever World Cup title.