Fans on Twitter lauded Argentina captain Lionel Messi for his spectacular performance in his team's 2-1 Round of 16 win against Australia at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Saturday (December 3).
The clash was Messi's 1000th professional game for club and country. The Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) attacker put on a befitting display as he dazzled throughout the game.
Messi opened the scoring in the 35th minute after Nicolas Otamendi had set him up inside the box. His shot went through a crowd of Australian defenders and ended up in the back of the net. It was his first goal in the World Cup knockouts in five attempts.
Julian Alvarez then capitalised on a defensive error from the Socceroos in the second half to double Argentina's lead. Craig Goodwin's shot took a massive deflection off Fernandez in the 77th minute as the Socceroos reduced arrears. However, Martinez produced a last-ditch save as Argentina clung on to reach the last eight.
Messi had a magical night as he rolled back the years with his brilliant left foot. The former Barcelona man masterfully set up Lautaro Martinez only to see the Inter Milan striker fire wastefully over.
At 35, the consensus belief was that Messi is on the decline. However, if tonight's performance was anything to go by, he remains one of the best players in the world. The touch artist reminded everyone why it's called the beautiful game as he produced a majestic performance.
Here are some of the best reactions across Twitter after Messi's masterclass against Australia.
Argentina will now play Netherlands on Friday (December 9) for a place in the last four, in a repeat of the 2014 semifinals.
FIFA World Cup milestones awaiting Argentina captain Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi scored his ninth FIFA World Cup goal against Australia. He has now surpassed Diego Maradona's tally of eight in the competition. Gabriel Batistuta is Argentina's all-time record scorer in World Cup with ten goals. Messi will have at least one game to equal or better that tally.
If the 35-year-old leads his team to the final, he will go past Germany's Lothar Mattheus (25) for most games played at the World Cup. That will also see him go past Maradona's record of most World Cup games captained for Argentina (16). With two more assists, Messi will tie Maradona (8) for most assists by an Argentine player at the World Cup.