Africa-Press – Lesotho. Lionel Messi marked his 1,000th professional game with his first goal in the knockout stage of a World Cup, leading Argentina into the quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over a spirited Australia side.
The 35-year-old on Saturday put Argentina ahead in the 35th minute with his third goal at this year’s tournament and ninth in total at the World Cup – one more than late Argentina legend Diego Maradona.
Julian Alvarez pounced on a heavy touch by Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan to tap into an empty net for the second goal as Argentina set up a meeting with the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.
Australia scored a 77th-minute consolation goal when Craig Goodwin’s shot deflected into the net off Argentina midfielder Enzo Fernandez.
For Australia’s squad of unheralded players, it was a match too far at a World Cup in which the team has exceeded expectations by reaching the knockout stage for only the second time. Australia also lost in the last 16 in 2006 to eventual champions Italy.