SOCCER

Messi Leads Argentina To 2-0 Win Over Mexico At World Cup

Nov 26, 2022, 4:31 PM

Lionel-Messi-Argentina-World-Cup...

Lionel Messi (R) of Argentina celebrates scoring their team's first goal with their teammates during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Mexico at Lusail Stadium on November 26, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — Lionel Messi was almost in tears as he grabbed and shook his jersey in front of Argentina’s celebrating fans, then blew a kiss and looked to the sky.

Lionel Messi Revives Argentina

With one of the most important goals of his career, Messi led Argentina to a 2-0 victory over Mexico on Saturday to ignite his team’s World Cup chances.

His dream of winning soccer’s biggest prize in likely his last attempt is still alive.

“It’s a weight off our shoulders,” Messi said. “It gives us joy and peace of mind to start again.”

Messi took a touch from Angel Di Maria’s pass across the face of the area and drove a low shot from 25 meters (yards) into the bottom corner to give Argentina the lead in the 64th minute.

His arms outstretched, he ran toward the team’s supporters who were celebrating behind the goal and was soon mobbed by his teammates. He whirled his arms in an emotional response to scoring his 93rd — and perhaps most crucial — international goal.

Substitute Enzo Fernandez added a second goal in the 87th minute, ensuring Argentina bounced back from a 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia that ranked as one of the World Cup’s biggest-ever upsets.

“We lived with discomfort and kept the defeat in the opening match in our minds,” Messi said. “The days were very long.

“We were eager to have the chance to turn the situation around and luckily we won.”

Argentina is second in Group C ahead of its last match against first-place Poland on Wednesday and might need to win it to advance.

“We can’t let our guard down now,” Messi said. “All of our matches are finals now. We can’t mess up.”

It was an eighth World Cup goal for Messi, the same number scored in the tournament by rival Cristiano Ronaldo and also Diego Maradona — the Argentina great with whom he is so often compared.

For some, Messi needs to win the World Cup — the only major title missing from his collection — to join the ranks of Pele and Maradona as soccer’s greatest-ever players. Thanks to this win, it could still happen.

“We already know for many years he is the world’s best player,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said. “Messi should enjoy this World Cup. All fans enjoy seeing him play.”

Scaloni made five changes from the Saudi Arabia game in a bid to inject some more energy into the team but initially, they made little difference in what proved to be a tense game lacking in quality. Argentina’s build-up play was slow and Mexico had little problem snuffing out its opponent’s attacks.

Messi was often seen walking around the field and mostly found himself with two defenders on him each time he got the ball. Frustration was starting to show on his face before the first half had even finished as he implored his teammates to relax.

Indeed, the goal Messi scored came from one of the first times he found himself in space.

Argentina’s fans inside the 89,000-seat Lusail Stadium hugged each other. Some cried. Argentina defender Lisandro Martinez fell to the ground and appeared to bury his face in the turf.

“I don’t think during the match he found many spaces in the last third of the field,” Mexico coach Gerardo Martinez, an Argentine who led his native country from 2014-16, said of Messi. “But he only needs a few seconds to be the difference.”

The momentum of the game changed completely and Mexico suddenly became ragged, with substitute striker Julian Alvarez proving much more effective for Argentina than Lautaro Martinez, the player he replaced.

Fernandez’s goal was his first for Argentina and it was an excellent one. He feigned to go to his left before shifting the ball to his right foot and curling a shot high and beyond Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Argentina’s substitutes poured onto the field to join the celebrations at the same stadium where there was so much despair after the shocking loss to Saudi Arabia.

“We knew we had to win today, that another World Cup was starting for us,” Messi said, “and we knew how to do it.”

Mexican Longevity

Mexico midfielder Andres Guardado became the sixth male player to feature at five World Cups. The 36-year-old follows two Mexicans — Antonio Carbajal and Rafa Marquez — as well as Lothar Matthaus, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Messi. Guardado didn’t last the first half, coming off in the 42nd minute because of injury.

Group Permutations

Poland leads Argentina and Saudi Arabia by one point with one match to play. Mexico is last and will next face the Saudis.

Soccer

Chicho-Arango-Real-Salt-Lake...

Chandler Holt

RSL Looks To Keep MLS Unbeaten Streak Alive Against FC Dallas

RSL hasn't lost in its last ten MLS games and the club looks to keep that streak going against FC Dallas in Toyota Stadium on Saturday.

3 hours ago

Chicho-Arango-Real-Salt-Lake...

Chandler Holt

Real Salt Lake Stuns Colorado Rapids With Late Push

Real Salt Lake looked dead in the water at multiple points in the match against the Colorado Rapids but still came out on top.

6 days ago

Andres Gomez RSL Real Salt Lake Seattle Sounders Colorado Rapids...

Chandler Holt

Real Salt Lake Takes Late Lead Over Colorado With Two Quick Goals

RSL spent nearly 30 minutes looking for an equalizer against the Colorado Rapids. They ended up getting more than what they asked for.

6 days ago

Andres Gomez Real Salt Lake RSL Seattle Sounders...

Chandler Holt

Andres Gomez Finds First-Half Equalizer Against Colorado Rapids

Andres Gomez scored one of the better goals of the season so far for Real Salt Lake to even the score with the Colorado Rapids.

6 days ago

Chicho Arango Real Salt Lake RSL Seattle Sounders...

Chandler Holt

Chicho Arango Gives RSL Hope After Rough Start Against Colorado

RSL got out to a slow start against Colorado but a goal from Chicho Arango put some wind in the sails of the home side.

6 days ago

Ally Sentnor Utah Royals Racing Louisville FC...

Chandler Holt

Utah Royals FC Fights Hard, Fall Short Against North Carolina Courage

The Utah Royals FC weathered the storm for the majority of the match against the North Carolina Courage but ultimately fell short.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Give-A-Thon

The KSL Sports Zone, KSL 5 TV, FM100.3, 103.5 The Arrow, and KSL NewsRadio have teamed up to raise money for the kids being served by Primary Children’s Care!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and KSLSports.com are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Messi Leads Argentina To 2-0 Win Over Mexico At World Cup