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Argentina 2-1 Australia: Player ratings as Messi helps La Albiceleste survive gallant Socceroos | 2022 FIFA World Cup

Argentina v Australia: Round of 16 - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Argentina players celebrate Lionel Messi's goal.

Favorites Argentina prevailed over a dogged and spirited Australia 2-1 in their round-of-16 match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Saturday (3 November).

Though frustrated for large stretches by the Aussie mid-block, the Copa America champions had looked pretty comfortable at 2-0 before a late Socceroos charge gave them a mighty scare.

Angel Di Maria did not start for the two-time world champions with a niggle and Alejandro 'Papu' Gomez started on the left of the 4-3-3 that Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni deployed.

Andrew McDonald set up his tough Aussies in a conservative 4-2-2 with a gameplan of breaking up play and frustrating the Argentine ball-players even though the latter dominated the ball.

It worked nicely till the 35th minute before a piece of Messi magic broke open the game. Messi himself took a free kick from the right wing that was headed out of the box, Gomez fed Messi on the wing with a volley. Messi passed it centrally to Mac Allister who sent in a grounded pass to Nicolas Otamendi inside the area.

Otamendi's touch put the ball in the way of the on-rushing Leo inside the box. And the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner just passed it into the far corner with his in-step through a jungle of Australian feet.

Argentina doubled the lead through a combination of great pressing by Rodrigo De Paul and Julian Alvarez and a mistake by Australian 'keeper Matt Ryan. Ryan, who is also the Socceroos' skipper, received a backpass under duress from De Paul, and instead of clearing the ball, took a heavy touch, diverting the ball into the path of Alvarez.

The Man City striker turned it into the game with one touch through a smart swiveling movement (57th minute).

It seemed at that point that Argentina will add to their tally, but it was the Aussies who came back into the game through an Enzo Fernandes own goal in the 77th minute. Aziz Behich's cross was cleared as far as Craig Goodwin, who took a hopeful long-range punt. Fernandes tried to intercept but only turned it into his own net.

Thereafter, the Green and Gold jerseys pushed up-field to get the equalizer. This opened up the game and Lautaro Martinez came close to restoring the two-goal cushion late in the game. Messi also shot wide with a curler.

Right at the end, Garang Kuol had his shot saved by Emiliano Martinez as Argentina lived to fight another day. They will now face the Netherlands in a mouth-watering quarterfinal.

Here are the player ratings from an extremely competitive game.


Argentina


Emiliano Martinez- 6.5/10

Had precious little to do in the first half. Was a bit tardy on his feet in the second and escaped as the Aussies pressed. But he really came into his own when the Socceroos pushed for an equalizer. Utilized his full frame to block the last shot to give his team the win.

#Qatar2022 🧀 @emimartinezz1, todo el pueblo argentino te abrazΓ³ πŸ«‚ https://t.co/lZ2LusSUz2

Nahuel Molina- 5.5/10

Molina had an average outing at right-back. Behich put him in a bit of trouble in the latter stages, while he did not join the attack as much as he was expected to do when the Argentines were in the ascendancy.


Cristian Romero- 6/10

The combative center-back was good in large patches but slightly loose at others. Made one tackle and blocked one shot.


Nicolas Otamendi- 6/10

The experienced defender had a nervous moment in the second half when his weak back pass nearly caught his own team out. Was solid otherwise and made eight clearances for his side.


Marcos Acuna- 6.5/10

Acuna has been in fine form at left-back for Argentina at Qatar. Here again, he showed some fine attacking play when going up the pitch while also making three tackles at the other.


Alexis Mac Allister- 6.5/10

This was another typically neat and tidy performance in midfield for the Brighton & Hove Albion player. Though he did not get a goal in this one, he passed it with accuracy and (38 of 42 passes) and kept Argentina ticking.


Enzo Fernandez- 6.5/10

No blame can be attached to the youngster for the own goal as he was trying to clear the ball. The scorer of a wonderful goal against Mexico, played in a deeper role in the three-man midfield, dropping between the center-backs on occasion and almost taking up a regista role while also helping the defense. Made 92 per cent of his passes.


Rodrigo De Paul- 7/10

Has been one of Argentina's most important players after a poor game in the opener. De Paul is a typical box-to-box presence, helping out at the back with his combative style, while also helping play build up in an attacking sense. Made 84 per cent of his passes and also put in two tackles and made two interceptions.


Papu Gomez- 6/10

Began the game well for Argentina and looked spirited and sharp but was taken off early in the second half after appearing to suffer an injury.


Lionel Messi- 7.5/10

It was another sublime performance from the 35-year-old GOAT as he rolled back the year while taking his goal and dribbling past men in characteristically slalom-like runs while also finding teammates with delectable passes. Made 52 of his 58 passes, created two big chances and made four key passes.

This was a milestone game for Messi as he was playing in his 1000th match. He also went past the great Diego Maradona on the Argentina World Cup goalscorers' list with his strike. This was also his first knock-out stage goal at the Cup. He now only trails Gabriel Batistuta in the all-time Argentina list.

Oh, he was also declared the man of the match. Just a usual day in the office for El Pulga.

LIONEL MESSI PASSES DIEGO MARADONA FOR MOST WORLD CUP GOALS BY AN ARGENTINE! πŸ‡¦πŸ‡· https://t.co/ZmbvKVcK9E

Julian Alvarez- 7/10

Was a sprightly presence in attack for Argentina and took his goal really well. Also made 88 per cent of his passes.


Substitutes


Lautaro Martinez- 4.5/10

His woeful World Cup for Argentina continues. Missed a golden opportunity to put Argentina two to the good when Messi found him unmarked. Miskicked the ball on another occasion from a good position and also shot straight at the keeper in another.


Lisandro Martinez- 6.5/10

Brought on to shore up the Argentina defense. The United defender was at his combative and commanding best when thwarting Aussie attacks.


Nicolas Tagliafico- 5/10

A subdued and mediocre performance at left-back where he also gave the ball away on multiple occasions.


Gonzalo Montiel- 5.5/10

Did not exactly manage to replicate Mac Allister's assurance in midfield and was tardy in passing.


Exequiel Palacios- 6/10

This was a decent if not remarkable outing for Palacios.


Australia


Matthew Ryan- 5/10

His mistake led to the second and difference-making goal. The Aussie captain showed that little mistakes in judgment can lead to catastrophe at the elite level.

Was tidy otherwise, making three saves.


Milos Degenek- 5.5/10

The right-back had a tough game as wave after wave of attack came down that wing with Acuna and Gomes working in tandem. He dealt with most of them but struggled with others.


Harry Souttar- 6/10

The giant center-back had another fine game, making two tackles and three interceptions. Was also an aerial threat at the other end.

An effort to be proud of against one of the World Cup favourites.πŸ“° Report and highlights πŸŽ₯#Socceroos #GiveIt100 #FIFAWorldCup

Kye Rowles- 6.5/10

The central defender joined forces with Souttar to frustrate the Argentine attackers for large stretches. Also passed with compsure out of the back.


Aziz Behich- 6/10

One his great runs from the back full of dribbles and tricks nearly led to an extraordinary goal that would have leveled the game. Played his part in Goodwin's goal too. Could have been more alert for Messi's goal.


Riley McGree- 6.5/10

Starting on the left side of midfield, he made 93 per cent of his passes and latched on to a few long balls from the back with aplomb to nearly open up the Argentine backline.


Aaron Mooy- 6.5/10

The midfield linchpin made 54 of his 57 passes while pressing satisfactorily to frustrate the Argentines on the ball.


Keanu Baccus- 5.5/10

Was overrun in midfield on a few occasions by Fernandez and Mac Allister while also not influencing attacking plays very well.


Matthew Leckie- 5.5/10

Much more was expected of Leckie going forward after his stellar performance in the previous game. But he flattered to deceive on the right wing and also passed erratically. Had zero attempts on goal and one attempted cross that also missed its mark.


Mitchell Duke- 5/10

Made 45 per cent of his passes, had no attempts on goal, won none of his two tackles and offered nothing in attack.


Jackson Irvine- 5.5/10

Duke's strike partner passed the ball better but again, offered negligible threat.


Substitutes


Fran Karacic- 6/10

Replaced Deganek and had a marginally better game than his predecessor.


Craig Goodwin- 6.5/10

Adelaide United's star attacker changed the complexion of the game after coming on. His shot led to the Australian goal and he also created one big chance.


Ajdin Hrustic- 6/10

The midfielder made 88 per cent of his passes and had an immediate impact as the Aussies became potent in the latter stages of the game.


Garang Kuol- 5.5/10

The forward was on for 18 minutes but only managed five touches. But he could have been a national hero if he had shot past Martinez with almost the last kick of the game. But it was well saved.


Jamie Maclaren- 5/10

Australia threw on all the strikers in their roster in a desperate last few minutes. One of them, Maclaren, had just four touches of the ball and made little impact on the proceedings.

The fans came, and Messi delivered! 🀩 After scoring his first goal for Argentina in a #FIFAWorldCup knockout game, Lionel Messi takes home the @Budweiser Player of the Match award. πŸΊπŸ‡¦πŸ‡· #ARGAUS πŸ‡¦πŸ‡Ί @Budfootball #POTM #YoursToTake #BringHomeTheBud #BudweiserWorldCup https://t.co/9MfaZGkudx

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Edited by Sourya Chowdhury
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