World Cup: Argentina defeats Netherlands on penalty kicks

Lionel Messi’s World Cup hopes are still alive but Tuesday’s quarter-final win over the Netherlands didn’t come easily or quickly – and Messi didn’t do it alone either.

Goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez made two saves in a five-round penalty shoot-out to push Argentina past the Netherlands after a 2-2 draw. Messi had a goal and an assist, then put Argentina on penalties by converting on his attempt.

Gonzalo Montiel and Leandro Paredes also scored but midfielder Enzo Fernández missed wide on the left before Lautaro Martinez sealed the win with his shot. It was the second time in three World Cups that Argentina defeated the Netherlands on penalties in the round of 16, the first time in the semifinals in 2014.

In Tuesday’s semi-final, Argentina will meet Croatia, who eliminated Brazil on penalties in the other quarter-final on Tuesday. Four of the first ten knockout games of this World Cup were decided on penalties.

Argentina were seconds from ending the win when Wout Weghorst struck a set piece deep in injury time and sent the game into overtime. Teun Koopmeiners overcame a free-kick just outside the box but instead of going on target, he just rolled the ball to the side of the Argentine wall for Weghorst, who took a hit before slipping a shot past a surprised goalkeeper Martínez. and into the bottom left corner, stunning an overwhelmingly pro-Argentinian crowd of 88,235 spectators ready to celebrate.

The Dutch had just two shots on target in regulation time and both were brought down by Weghorst, who also headed in in the 83rd minute. Those two goals erased Argentina’s 2-0 lead thanks to a goal and an assist from Messi and made Weghorst the first Dutch player to come off the bench and score twice in a World Cup game.

Argentina looked good several times in the final minutes of extra time, but Dutch goalkeeper Andries Nopert made a couple of great saves and Fernández curled a right footed shot off the far post on the last shot before the penalty shoot-out.

Argentina had the only goal in the first half, with defender Nahuel Molina scoring in the 35th minute. However, Messi made it possible, dropping a shoulder and firing into midfield to draw defenders towards him on a long broken field. He then selected Molina, who ran into the penalty area and found him with a perfect pass through the Dutch defence. Molina did the rest, escaping Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk and beating Nopert with a right-footed shot into the left corner for his first goal in 25 internationals.

It was also Argentina’s first goal in a World Cup match against Holland since 1998, the last two meetings ending goalless. Messi was involved in five of Argentina’s eight goals in Qatar, scoring three and providing two more.

And he wasn’t done yet.

He came just short of doubling Argentina’s lead in the 63rd minute when he clawed out a free-kick from 25 yards out after going down following a Van Dijk push from behind. He directed his left-footed shot over the wall in the direction of the far post, but missed it by centimeters. After Denzel Dumfries brought down Argentina defender Marcos Acuña on the left edge of the box in the 71st minute, Messi got another chance, this time on a penalty and he didn’t forgive, beating Nopert to put Argentina 2-0 ahead .

The goal was Messi’s 10th in the World Cup game and connected Gabriel Bautista for the Argentine record.

Weghorst halved the deficit with seven minutes remaining when he headed in a long Steven Bergwijn cross five minutes into the game. World Cup: Argentina defeats Netherlands on penalty kicks

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