Lionel Messi, a player who may not grace the great stages of football for much longer, today scored his 1,000th career game as Argentina beat Australia at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in the round of 16 of the football World Cup in Qatar.
A second followed just before the hour mark, courtesy of Julian Alvarez, following a major lapse by Australia’s defence.
The Socceroos played a compact game, and some periods of possession worked well for them in the second half. Goodwin tried to find a receiver inside of the box from distance in the 77th minute, but the ball ricocheted off Federico Fernandez and into the Argentina goal.
Futher efforts in both goal-mouths ramped up the tension in the dying minutes, and amid late pressure from the Australians, there was a chance in the final seconds for Garang Kuol to send the game to extra time – but his shot was smothered by Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez.
For Australia’s squad of unheralded players, it proved to be a match too far at a World Cup in which the team has exceeded expectations by reaching the knock-out stage for only the second time. Australia also lost in the last 16 in 2006, to eventual champions Italy.