Argentina lives to fight another day at the 2022 World Cup after a Lionel Messi-inspired second-half performance from the reigning South American champions saw them rectify their poor start to the tournament with a 2-0 win over Mexico, stretching their record against the CONCACAF side to 4-0-0 in tournament play.
Though La Albiceleste were slow to start out of the gates in the first half, Lionel Scaloni’s men upped their performance levels after the half-time interval and it was none other than Messi himself to bag the winner in the 64th minute when his smart control found him with enough space just outside the area to send a low drive past Guillermo Ochoa into the far post.
It was a strike of real significance for the 35-year-old legendary figure, who not only set his nation off with a chance to progress to the knockout stage in what is sure to be his final World Cup tournament, but it also drew him level with national icon Diego Maradona as joint-top scorers at the World Cup with eight goals while both needed 21 appearances to achieve the feat.
Long has Messi been hailed as the true heir apparent to the late, great, Maradona due to their similarities in stature and uncanny ability on the ball, but Maradona achieved the one thing that has eluded the Paris Saint-Germain star for the duration of his illustrious career; a World Cup win.
Many have been hoping to see Messi lift the sport’s greatest honor this winter given the knowledge that he will never again star on the world stage, and this has been an Argentine outfit that many suggested has been one of the better - and more balanced - collection of players in decades.
His performance tonight, which also included an assist for Enzo Fernández’s fantastic effort to double the scoreline, is the type of effort that it may take for Argentina to lift its third World Cup trophy but it would no doubt be the most fitting send off for one of the best players to ever grace a football pitch.