Lionel Messi said he was happy after he led Argentina to a 2-1 win over Australia to reach the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on Saturday.
The 35-year-old said, “It was a difficult day. We had very little rest time. We did not recover well. It was a very physical match. Happy for this victory and for taking another step.”
Messi, who was playing his 1000th professional match for club and country, gave Albiceleste lead in the 35th minute with a left-footed strike from inside the box to beat a diving Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and find the bottom left corner.
“I found out today that it was the 1000th match. I live in the moment, I enjoy what we’re going through and I’m happy to take one more step, to get through to the quarterfinals,” he said.
Julian Alvarez doubled the lead for the South Americans in the 57th minute. However, Craig Goodwin’s strike from outside the box which took a deflection off Enzo Fernandez in the 77th minute kept Australia’s hopes alive. The Socceroos came close to equalising in the dying seconds of the match but Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez made a stunning save to ensure his team’s victory.
Messi said, “We controlled this. match. Apart from the last save that Dibu (Martínez) made, we didn’t suffer too much”.
“We were able to take the lead, score the second and control the game. They marked us and made it a bit difficult for us at the end, but this is a World Cup and that’s how it is.”
Argentina next faces the Netherlands in a repeat of the 2014 World Cup semifinal which the South American nation won 4-2 on penalties after a goalless draw.
Talking about the match-up, Messi said, “We’re going to have a very tough match-up. It’s going to be very difficult, they’re going to want to take the ball away from us. At this point, the World Cup is getting even tougher.”
He added, “We wanted to be here because of how it feels like and what people transmit. We must remain united.”
Get all the results for the FIFA World Cup 2022 here: Full list of all matches, scores, results, goalscorers
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