Day 14 of the World Cup in Qatar belongs to Argentina captain Lionel Messi who gave his team their first goal in what would be a 2-1 victory over Australia – a win that puts the Argentinian side through to the quarter-finals and saw Messi surpass the World Cup goal tally of Argentina’s footballing legend, the late Diego Maradona.
Saturday night’s other round of 16 game saw the Netherlands start slowly but steadily build momentum to score three goals against the USA in what would be a 3-1 defeat for the US side. In so doing, the Dutch have booked a place in a quarter-final showdown against Argentina.
Here’s a recap of all you need to know from Day 14 – Saturday, December 3 – of the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
Argentina vs Australia
Argentina advanced to the quarter-finals of the World Cup 2022 with a 2-1 win over Australia. Argentina captain Lionel Messi marked his 1,000th game as a professional footballer by opening the scoring in the 35th minute.
Messi’s goal on Saturday night at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar was his third at this year’s tournament and the ninth of his career in a World Cup, surpassing by one the previous record held by the late Argentinian footballing hero Diego Maradona.
Stubborn Australia had not given Argentina any space before Messi broke through their defences. Teammate Julián Álvarez put away the second goal against Australia in the 57th minute after a lapse by the Socceroos goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.
It was not all one way though, as Argentina felt the pressure when Australian substitute Craig Goodwin scored in the 77th minute following a deflection off Enzo Fernandez and into the Argentinian net.
A glimmer of hope emerged in the final seconds of the game that Australia’s Garang Kuol might send the teams into extra time with an equaliser, but his shot was stopped by Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez.
The knockout match against Argentina proved to be a game too far for Australia, who had already exceeded expectations by reaching the round of 16 for the second time ever. Australia lost in the last 16 in 2006 to the tournament’s eventual champions, Italy.
Looking forward, the Argentina vs Netherlands quarter-final showdown will be their sixth World Cup meeting, including Argentina winning the 1978 final 3-1, losing the 1998 quarter-final 2-1, and winning the 2014 semi-final 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 deadlock.
“We had the game under control and could have scored another one… There were a few scary moments, but we made it through,” said Messi, who hopes to win the World Cup in his fifth and final attempt.
“It wasn’t easy but I am very happy that we are through. We have to play every three days but were looking forward to playing in front of our fans. We have to continue standing together as a team.”
Australia forward Mathew Leckie said: “It hurts. We came into the game to win. We had many chances and kept ourselves in the game. We saw that we are competitive, have a good fighting and team spirit.”
Netherlands vs USA
Though the USA started strong in their match against the Netherlands, it did not take long before the Dutch got the measure of the Stars and Stripes and scored three goals that put them through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
US star forward Christian Pulisic missed a golden opportunity early on when, after just three minutes of match time, he found himself with nothing between him and the Netherlands’s net than their goalkeeper.
But Dutch goalie Andries Noppert, the tallest man at the World Cup, stuck out his left leg to stop a shock opener to the game.
The Netherlands’s Denzel Dumfries then led the counterattack on Saturday night by providing an assist to Memphis Depay, who found the back of the USA net in the 10th minute. The lively start was then replaced with a more languid passage of play as the Netherlands sat back, waiting for more counterattacking chances.
A low pass from Dumfries to Daley Blind also set up the second Dutch goal just ahead of the half-time break.
Haji Wright, brought on as a substitute in the second half by the USA, gave his team their first and only goal in the 76th minute.
But just five minutes later, it was Dumfries who again put the Netherlands two goals ahead when he scored in the 81st minute, with Daley Blind this time providing the assist.
The Dutch will now face off against Argentina in the quarter-finals, as the Argentinians beat Australia 2-1 on Saturday.
“That’s a very important win for us,” Dumfries said after the game. “We played a very good match, but I still think we can do better.”
USA coach Gregg Berhalter said: “It’s such a good group of guys, but we came up just a bit short today, but not for the lack of trying. I’m really proud of this group but bitterly disappointed.”