In Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Mexico, Lionel Messi scored another significant goal for Argentina, igniting the team’s World Cup hopes. In the 64th minute, Messi received a pass from Angel Di Maria and took a touch before firing a low shot from 25 meters into the bottom corner of the net.
Before being surrounded by his delighted teammates, he sprinted with his arms spread toward Argentina’s supporters. He grabbed his jersey and waved it about as he blew a kiss to the audience and appeared to be inconsolable. In the 87th minute, substitute Enzo Fernandez added a second goal.
Argentina recovered from an unexpected 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in its first game. Prior to its final encounter against Poland on Wednesday, the team sits in second place in Group C and may need to win to advance.
The World Cup, the lone major championship left from Messi’s resume at age 35, is probably his final opportunity to compete. It was Messi’s eighth World Cup goal, matching the total of his adversary Cristiano Ronaldo and the legendary Argentine, Diego Maradona, who he is frequently compared to.
For some, Lionel Messi must win the World Cup in order to stand with Pele and Maradona as one of the sport’s all-time great players. This victory gives it a chance to still occur. Messi was having a difficult game up to his goal, constantly having two players on him when he received the ball.
In an effort to give his squad more energy, Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni made five changes from the lineup that played Saudi Arabia, but the alterations didn’t seem to have much of an impact at first. After Messi’s goal, his 93rd in international play and second of the tournament following a penalty against Saudi Arabia, the game’s momentum suddenly changed.