Argentina vs Australia player ratings as Lionel Messi scores first World Cup knockout goal in 1,000th match

Argentina 2-1 Australia: Messi’s opening goal in his milestone match broke the deadlock before Julian Alvarez added a second after the break, but La Albiceleste were made to hang on near the end

Jamie Braidwood
Saturday 03 December 2022 21:22 GMT
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Lionel Messi scored his first World Cup knockout goal as Argentina defeated Australia to advance to the quarter-finals and a meeting with the Netherlands.

In his 1,000th competitive match for club and country, Messi brought what was largely an uneventful first half into life as he coolly slotted the opening goal past Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

Australia were able to get into half-time only a goal down but their slim hopes looked to have faded when Ryan was caught on the ball by Rodrigo De Paul, with Julian Alvarez finishing into an empty net.

Australia produced a response, though, after Aziz Behich’s shot deflected off Enzo Fernandez and into the net. Behich was then denied a sublime solo goal by a terrific Lisandro Martinez block, as Argentina were made to hang on for their win. Emiliano Martinez was even forced into a last-gasp save to deny Garang Kuol.

Argentina will face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals on Friday, in what is a rematch from the 2014 semi-finals. Here are how the Argentina players rated.

Emiliano Martinez. 7

Suddenly became the hero after producing a last-gasp stop to deny Garang Kuol, and was mobbed by his team-mates for the save. The goalkeeper also dealt with set-pieces well but was almost caught on the ball after half-time when Argentina were only a goal up and it did not help his team’s composure. He was left stranded by Behich’s deflected strike.

Nahuel Molina, 5

Seems to be lacking a bit of confidence when on the ball in attacking areas. The switch to 3-5-2 didn’t seem to suit him either.

Cristian Romero, 6

Looked to be the more proactive centre-back when passing out from the back. Showed excellent tenacity to break out from the back-line and win the ball at times.

Nicolas Otamendi, 3

Lost his composure with a wild hack at a clearance that led to Australia’s goal and was largely shambolic after being placed in the middle of a three-man defence. Technically comes away with an assist, but whether he meant it or not is another question.

Marcos Acuna, 6

Delivered a peach of a ball from the left midway through the second half to offer a reminder of his attacking qualities. The left back was solid defensively and, unlike Molina, seems more suited to the wing-back role.

Alexis Mac Allister, 7

Some may say the moment that sparked this last-16 clash into life was Messi’s goal. Others might argue it was Aziz Behich’s shove on the Argentina captain in the corner, as well as his foul on Alejandro Gomez. But Mac Allister has a claim, too, after injecting some much-needed pace into Argentina’s play with his pass into Otamendi. Messi did the rest. So often has close control in tight areas.

(Getty Images)

Enzo Fernandez, 5

Argentina’s holder kept it steady and safe. There was nothing he could have done about Australia’s goal after the ball deflected off him.

Rodrigo De Paul, 7

It was the midfielder’s sudden burst to press Ryan that led to Argentina’s second goal. De Paul was released by Argentina’s change of system as it allowed him to push forward. His use of the ball in midfield became much better and it helped Argentina in their link-up play.

Alejandro Gomez, 4

The only change in the Argentina team after replacing the injured Angel Di Maria. Gomez wanted to be direct as he looked to cut in from the left, but his end product was often wasteful. Replaced shortly after half-time.

Julian Alvarez, 7

Full of energy and running into both channels, the forward just wasn’t getting the breaks he needed during a frustrating first half as his touch let him down at times. But his perseverance was rewarded when he pounced on Ryan’s error after the break. Remains very important to this Argentina attack and his finish was insticitive following Ryan’s mistake.

Lionel Messi, 9

You just knew it would be him. On his 1000th appearance, Messi lit up what was a drab contest with his first ever World Cup knockout goal. It was a lovely finish, too, passed effortlessly into the corner after sensing the touch from Otamendi. He actually wasn’t having the tidiest of games before then, as he was guilty of giving the ball away a couple of times. But Messi carries an energy, and his spark has carried Argentina into the quarter-finals. Simply sublime at times in the second half.

(Getty Images)


Lisandro Martinez, 7: His introduction for Gomez and subsequent system change shortly after half-time raises the intriguing possibility of Argentina matching the Netherlands’ formation in the quarter-final. Martinez, on the left of the back three, looked comfortable and produced an outside block to deny Behich’s solo run.

Lautaro Martinez, 3: Unable to match Alvarez’s energy and showed why he is no longer Argentina’s first choice with some wasteful finishing, spurning chances to seal the win late on.

Nicolas Tagliafico, 5: Kept the shape well on the left wing after replacing Acuna.

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