The Argentina national team did not underestimate the opponent at the start of the playoffs. One could consider the Australians, who suddenly advanced to the 1/8 finals, as a random upstart, but too many teams at the World Cup in Qatar got burned on this, and it’s not a fact that all these sudden Moroccans, Japanese and South Koreans will not reach the quarterfinals.
From the very first minutes, Albicelesta led the game, took control of the ball, seized the territorial advantage, but did not recklessly rush forward and force the game - as in previous matches in the tournament. The Australians, on the other hand, acted as if they were being coached by Kurban Berdyev: they defended diligently and skillfully, waiting for the right moment to catch the opponent. And no need to grin - Berdyev thus defeated Barcelona with 22-year-old Messi at the Camp Nou. This approach also helped the Australians: the Argentines did not deliver a single blow in the first half hour. And at that moment it seemed that the initiative was gradually flowing to the representatives of the Green Continent - they began to visit more often on the half of the albicelesta field.
This is where Messi opened the scoring. It seemed that the Australians took out the ball, but Lionel picked it up, gave it to the penalty area to McAllister, who continued to move the ball into the penalty area, where Otamendi left Messi under attack. He softly struck into the bottom corner, and goalkeeper Ryan Sutter, obscured by his players, could not reach. Surprisingly, this is Messi's first goal in the playoffs of the World Cup.
The Australians did not come unstuck from the beginning of the second half, they covered the Argentines with pressure. But it was not possible to stun them, and in the 57th minute Matthew screwed up, who, instead of taking out from his penalty area, decided to show his skills: he bypassed de Paul, and then lost the ball under pressure from Alvarez, who did not miss the empty goal from seven meters.
But even with the score 0:2, there was still more than enough intrigue. In the 77th minute, the Australians still retaliated one goal: Goodwin struck powerfully from outside the penalty area, and wide, but the ball caught Enzo Fernandez's head along the way, changed the trajectory and ended up in the goal. And almost immediately, a luxurious slalom pass was demonstrated by Behic - only at the last second in the penalty area in a tackle he was knocked out of the ball from his feet. In the end, Lautaro Martinez could decide everything, but he screwed up three moments in a row, almost letting the team down: his namesake goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved the team from Kuol, who hit from the goalkeeper's corner, in the 97th minute.
It seems to be the victory of Argentina in the class, but is it possible to squander moments like that - especially when Paulo Dybala is alive, who is still sitting on the bench. Albiceleste doesn't look perfect. However, not a single team in this championship can be included in the ideal category.
Argentina - Australia - 2:1 (1:0).
December 3rd. Er Rayyan. Ahmed bin Ali Stadium.
Referee - Marciniak (Poland).
Argentina: Martinez, Molina (Palacios 80), Otamendi, Romero, Acuña (Tagliafico 72), De Paul, Mac Allister (Montiel 80), Fernandez, Gomez (Martinez 50), Messi, Alvarez (Martinez 71) .
Australia: Ryan, Degenek (Karacic 72), Suttar, Rawls, Behic, McGree (Goodwin 58), Mooy, Bacchus (Khrustic 58), Irvine, Lecky (Kuol 72), Duke (McLaren 72).
Goals: 1:0 Messi (35), 2:0 Alvarez (57), 2:1 Fernandez (77 own).
Booked: Irvine (15), Degenek (38).