Messi Hero: "We only have finals ahead of us"

Nothing is clear despite 2-0 against Mexico. The repair work after the shock loss against Saudi Arabia continues as planned, but there is still a lot to repair and patch up.

Group C remains an open story with Argentina in danger of disappearing from the championship on Wednesday.

Poland leads on four points, Argentina and Saudi Arabia are both on three heading into the final round and Mexico has one point.

Hot meeting on Wednesday

Poland and Argentina meet. The winner is guaranteed a place in the round of 16. But should it end in a draw and the Saudis beat Mexico, Messi will leave World Cup football for good with a magnificent fiasco as heavy baggage.

There were battles, there were duels, there were free-kicks every two minutes, a game between desperate players in two teams that gave nothing away, aware as they were that a loss would be fatal.

Worst in advance was the situation for Argentina. The players were clearly weighed down by the gravity of the moment and the fact that the form that had long made the team unbeatable did not carry over to the Arabian Peninsula.

Tough first half

Those who want to dig deeper into what unfolded in the first 45 minutes will find it here:

+ Only after 34 minutes of play did Lionel Messi get a free kick that Mexican goalkeeper veteran Guillermo Ochoa boxed away. That was what Argentina threatened.

+ Mexico? Alexis Vega’s free kick was stopped by Emiliano Martinez in the 45th minute.

But somewhere after the break, Argentina dug out what was required and Messi – who else? – showed the way.

His lead drilled into Ochoa’s left corner in the 64th minute, Messi’s eighth goal in his 21st World Cup game. Figures that touched Diego Armando Maradona’s World Cup conclusion.

The goal broke open a long locked game. Mexico were whipped to equalize to have a reasonable chance of progressing.

Enzo Fernandez thanks higher powers.

Instead, Enzo Fernandez elegantly made it 2-0 in the 87th minute, set up by Messi, to bring down the curtain for the Mexicans, who go into the group stage against Saudi Arabia with a point.

“Give joy to the people”

The relief after the final whistle was palpable among players and managers.

— Today we were able to bring joy to the people, ourselves and our families. We keep fighting, as always. The first match did not go as we had planned. Today I think we played a good match against a great rival. We knew it wasn’t going to be an easy match, Angel Di Maria told Argentina’s official Twitter account.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez:

— We knew we would have been out if we had lost. They made it difficult for us. These days have been difficult for us, but today we showed that we are ready for more.

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