Argentina 2-1 Australia: 1000 games for Lionel Messi, heartbreak for socceroos

Argentina vs Australia saw the former scoring twice and thus heading through to the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup. The match also marked the end of the road for the Socceroos’ Qatar dreams. 

The Round of 16 game was the first time that Argentina and Australia had ever played each other in a World Cup tournament, as well as being the two teams’ first meeting since 2007.

This match also marked Australia’s second-ever time reaching a World Cup RO16. Their first was back in 2006 when they lost 1-0 to Italy. 

Starting XI – Argentina vs Australia 

Ahead of the game, Argentina made just one change to the team that beat Poland earlier in the week. Papu Gomez joined Lionel Scaloni’s starting XI for Argentina vs Australia. He replaced Angel Di Maria, who was unfortunately out with an injury. 

Likewise, Graham Arnold’s side hardly deviated from the team that started in their 1-0 win over Denmark. The only change being Keanu Baccus getting his first start in the World Cup. He replaced Craig Goodwin on the left wing. 

The match also saw Lionel Messi playing his 1,000th game of senior football. Argentina vs Australia’s World Cup clash was also his 100th as his nation’s captain. 

The first-half: a magical Messi moment

A slow but steady first half for Argentina vs Australia saw neither team playing their best World Cup football. 

Despite Argentina dominating with 61% possession, the first half saw just three shots being fired by both teams. However, only one of these shots was on target.

In the 35th, Nicolas Otamendi’s first touch allowed him to play a brilliant ball to Messi. The Argentinian captain then slotted the ball past Australia’s captain Matt Ryan, to see Argentina lead 1-0. 

Despite this magic moment, however, there were no more on-target shots in the first half. 

Other events in the first 45 include Australia’s Jackson Irvine and Milos Degenek both being shown yellow cards. The latter’s booking took place just three minutes after Messi’s goal. 

Despite one minute of extra time being added, neither team could capitalise. Argentina vs Australia ended 1-0 at the break.

The second half: Australia come close, but not close enough

Gomez was replaced by Lisandro Martinez in the 50th minute. This forced a tactical change, seeing Argentina propping up five at the back while Messi and Julian Alvarez operated as a duo up top.

Scaloni’s decision worked well, as Alvarez doubled his nation’s lead in the 57th minute. Due to a poor Australia pass, Alvarez was able to steal the ball back and neatly pop it into the back of the net. 

Following the second Argentinian strike, a double substitution came from Australia in the 58th. Riley McGree was replaced by Goodwin while Baccus came off to make way for Ajdin Hrustic.

After a fruitless 14 minutes, another round of substitutions came from both teams.

Substitution city for both teams and an own goal for Argentina

Firstly, Argentina made a double substitution in goal scorer Alvarez and also Marcos Acuna. They were replaced by Lautaro Martinez and Nicolas Tagliafico, respectively.

Australia then made a triple substitution. Mathew Leckie, Michell Duke and Degenek were replaced by Garang Kuol, Jamie Maclaren and Fran Karacic. 

Argentina vs Australia post-match report. Image credit: Getty Images.
Image credit: Getty Images

In the 77th minute, the scoreline for Australia was finally opened. An own goal from Argentina’s Enzo Fernandez gave the Socceroos their first fighting chance. 

Their second chance came five minutes later when Aziz Behich charged through a stream of Argentina players. Martinez eventually silenced Behich, but it was a real golden moment in a pretty mundane game. 

A double substitution for Argentina took place in the 80th, with Alexis Mac Allister and Nahuel Molina being replaced by Exequiel Palacios and Gonzalo Montiel. 

Following the substitutions, seven minutes of extra time was added to the RO16 game. But despite coming very close in the last minute, it just wasn’t long enough for underdogs Australia to equalise. 

What’s next for Argentina?

After coming out of Argentina vs Australia victorious, the former will now face The Netherlands in the World Cup quarter-finals. The match will take place on Friday, December 9 at 7 pm UK time.

Sadly, however, it means that this is the end of the road for Australia in the 2022 World Cup. 

The nation should be extremely proud of its performance. In the group stages of the tournament, they beat both Tunisia and Denmark 1-0. This sent them through to the RO16 alongside Group D winners, France. 

The final scoreline reads Argentina 2-1 Australia. 

Featured image credit:Alfredo Estrella/Getty Images