Lionel Messi took centre stage on Saturday night, as an Argentina outfit continuing to look some way short of their brilliant best kept the country’s World Cup dream alive.
The Albiceleste marked their return to action a short time ago.
Fresh off a shock opening day defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia, Lionel Scaloni’s troops made the trip to Lusail, for a showdown with Mexico.
The Argentines headed into proceedings in the knowledge that a positive result was a must, with a defeat set to see the South American champions sent packing from the competition.
And, when all was said and done, clinch a vital return to winning ways is precisely what the evening’s favourites went on to do.
A predictably tense 90 minutes was ultimately decided by a pair of moments of individual brilliance.
The first came courtesy of the aforementioned Lionel Messi.
After being picked out by Angel Di Maria 25 yards from goal, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner took one touch to settle himself, before driving a pinpoint effort into the far corner of the Mexican net:
Then, as proceedings entered the closing stages, Messi laid on substitute Enzo Fernandez, who danced his way into shooting position, before bending a sumptuous strike beyond the dive of Guillermo Ochoa.
Argentina, from here, stood firm, to climb clear of Saudi Arabia into 2nd in the World Cup Group C table, ahead of a final day showdown with leaders Poland.
A victory over the Poles next time out, in turn, could well see the Albiceleste recover from nothing short of a disastrous tournament start, to march onto the knockout rounds as group winners.
- Martinez - 6
- Montiel - 5
- Otamendi - 7
- Martinez - 6.5
- Acuna - 6
- Guido Rodriguez - 5.5
- De Paul - 5
- MacAllister - 6.5
- Messi - 7.5
- Di Maria - 6
- Martinez - 4.5
Substitutes: Fernandez - 7.5, Alvarez - 7, Molina - 5.5, Palacios - 5.5, Romero - 6
- Ochoa - 4.5
- Araujo - 5.5
- Montes - 6
- Moreno - 6
- Gallardo - 4.5
- Herrera - 6
- Chavez - 5
- Guardado - 5.5
- Lozano - 5.5
- Vega - 5