Lionel Messi Played his 1000 match and scored his 701st goal in career as Argentina beat Australia 2-1.
Argentine talisman player, Lionel Messi played the match of his life on Saturday to beat the Kangaroos of Australia 2-1 a match that if Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka was watching, he would out rightly have described the Aussies as a bunch that were “as stubborn as an illiterate goat” because they kept coming for the Argentine.
The Argentine looked to have fumbled and wobbled into the round of 16 after the team lost the opener 1-2 to Saudi Arabia but climbing to top the Group with 6 points and Poland followed 2nd with 4 points.
Messi playing his playing his 1000th match had scored 8 goals for Argentina at the world cup and none at the Knockout stages, in fact 3 of the goals at the group stages were against Nigeria so when he played a grass cutter that scored in the 35th minute against Australia off a Nicolas Otamendi pass, Journalists adjusted putting off every distraction. A Commentator renamed Messi as OluMessi a Yoruba prefix for divine translated here to mean Messi is Argentine Messiah.
Julian Alvarez pounced on a defensive error by Mathew Ryan of Australia in the 57th to increase the lead for Argentina but the game changed when in an effort to block an inter Ballistic missile of a shot, the like likes of the ones from the Atuegbu brothers of Enugu Rangers in the days of yore when Andrew Atuegbu’s shot removed the horizontal bar in a match, (There was Alloy Atuegbu) Erizo Fernandez diverted the ball into his net. The ricochet inspired the Aussies to come back to Life.
The Australians shot into the Argentine goal area like Soldiers fighting terrorists, just fire into the goal area. It was unbelievable then that Argentine Goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez saved from very close range an Uzzi like shot from Garang Kuol in 90+7 minute which could have sent the match into extra time and probably penalty shootout. Uzzi is a military weapon whose shots could penetrate heavy irons or concrete blocks.
Argentina that had 5 shots on target to the Aussie’s one were under pressure especially 15 minutes to the end of the game before about 8 minutes were added. Australia played 3 corner kicks to one as the Argentine were ruled offside 4 times trying to get goals despite their 61% to 39% ball possession meaning Messi led guys were in control of the game but the Australians were rough on the former world Champions having 15 foul calls to8 and bagging the available 2 yellow cards.
A check on their head to head plays shows that Argentina won five of their meetings, Australia won once and they played draw once with Argentina scoring a total of 12 goals to Aussie’s 7. Argentina won 14th July 1988 4-1 in an Intercontinental Gold Cup; another 2-0 on 18th June 1992.
At the world cup qualifiers of 31st October 1993they played 1-1 draw; but on 17th November of the same year in the same competition, Argentina won by a lone goal; 30th June 2005 Aussies lost 2-4 at the FIFA Confederation cup and lastly on 11th September Argentina won 1-0.
Argentina will now meet Netherlands that earlier defeated USA 3-1 in the quarterfinals.
On Sunday, Les Bleu of France will meet Robert Lewandoski’s Poland at 4pm and the battle of Lions; the Three Lions of England and Teranga Lions of Senegal at 8pm.
Eniola Olatunji reporting.