The all-important knockout stage is well underway at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, with Argentina and Australia battling for the spot on Saturday.
The game kicked off to an almost entirely blue sea of fans in the stands of Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, where Argentina fans made their presence well and truly heard.
Whistles of discontent rang across the stadium in the 4th minute when what appeared to be an Aussie handball in the penalty box went unnoticed.
Despite this, the Argentines got on with it in what appeared to be a calm approach to what could possibly be a historic last match for Messi.
Australia’s Irvine received a yellow after taking down Acuna in the 14th minute. Suddenly Argentina pick up the pace and start pressing on Aussie territory as thousands of fans belt chants to inspire the players.
By 18 minutes, the Socceroos have managed to find their way to the Argentine box though this ends with a run off the pitch after pressure from De Paul.
The pitch sees little action by the 28th minute and both teams are clearly playing it safe. Any hint of a break by either side is met with cheers from fans in the stadium.
Moments later, a strategic Argentine side pass the ball to Messi on the wing who finds his way to the centre and strikes a low ball into the bottom left of the net. It’s 1-0 for Argentina and the crowds are pumping and jumping – literally.
The goal is an important one for Messi who is playing his 1,000th career game.
The second half kicks off with more cheers for an energetic Argentine crowd, who make up a large portion of the 45,000 crowds at the stadium.
Just over ten minutes in, Argentina sends the crowds roaring once more with a second goal from Alvarez.
It appears a dominant Argentina is on its way to knocking out the Aussies. Messi makes a break at 65 minutes but can’t finish. Just minutes later he takes another strike but leaves the box disappointed once more.
After several substitutions by both teams, Australia appears to kick it up a notch and manages to score a stunning goal that leaves the Argentine keeper go smacked and paralysed.
Shortly after, Australias Behich makes an incredible run down the left side of the goal that gets all those in attendance on their feet. He manages to slip in and out of four Argentinian players before his shot is blocked. The Socceroos have new-found energy and it appears they’re still in the game.
With minutes left to the big 90, Martinez is beautifully set up in the penalty box but manages to scuffle a near-open goal, sending the ball curling a little way too north of the crossbar.
Seven minutes are added to extra time, that are filled with drama. Argentina presses in Aussie territory in a clear attempt to solidify their win with a third goal, though Messi goes wide while attempting to control a deflection.
On the other end, Australia’s last-second attempt at goal is blocked by a relieved Argentine goalkeeper as the whistle is blown.
Messi will play his 1,001st game in Qatar, it seems.