World Cup as it happened: Messi on target as Argentina beat Australia to progress to next round

Socceroos almost sneak a draw at the end in absorbing second half in Qatar


Messi’s game against Australia was the best individual display of this World Cup, says Rio Ferdinand. Here are the stats:


FULL-TIME: Argentina 2 Australia 1

Argentina through to the quarter-finals to play Netherlands! Well, that was fun. A slow-starting game really came to life in the second half. Messi was at his spectacular best on his 1,000th appearance he scored and controlled the game. Argentina should have finished it off and put it beyond doubt and Australia nearly sneaked a draw in the end but for a great save by Martinez. The better team went through but the Socceroos can be very proud of themselves and go out with their heads held high.

Here’s that moment at the end again:

Here’s the Messi goal again:

Stay tuned, Ken Early’s match report to come.


97 mins: Chance! Last hurrah for Australia, cross into the box, Martinez heads away from Hahich. Kuol with the chance in front of goal... and Martinez smothers it with a fantastic save from 10 yards. Brilliant save!


95 mins: More shots by Argentina, Martinez misses again, good save by Ryan and comes off Messi and goes out of play.


93 mins: Seven minutes of additional time. Martinez misses again when laid off by a Messi run. Will they rue these chances? Messi gets the ball and tries to do it himself. Just wide of the post. Brilliant performance by the great man.


88 mins: Oh dear. Messi sets up Lautaro Martinez with another mazy run but Martinez leans back and blazes it over from short range. Terrible miss, game should be over.


84 mins: The momentum is with Australia now. Too many changes by Argentina? They’ve lost their rhythm, Aussies pumping it long and Romero holds his face after a challenge by Kuol.


82 mins: Wow, almost a wonder goal by Behich, he runs at top speed, he beats three or four players and almost scores! Out of nowhere but super block by Lisandro Martinez. From the corner, Australia curl the ball over. Check this out:


80 mins: Messi finds Tagliafico in the box with a nice slip ball but good defending by Australia. It’s called offside. Argentina have to watch out now. Palacios off for Mac Allister, Molina off for Montiel.


77 mins: GOAL FOR AUSTRALIA! Ball into the box is cleared a massive deflection off Enzo Fernandez from the shot from Goodwin and out of nowhere it’s 2-1!


73 mins: Off comes Alvarez and Acuna, on come Lautaro Martinez and Tagliafico for Argentina. Duke, Degenek and Leckie off for Kuol, Hrustic and MacClaren for Australia.


68 mins: Goodwin with another free kick that misses the mark as Martinez collects the ball. Earlier, Messi shot well wide from distance.


65 mins: Beautiful dribbling by Messi takes three out of the game. They’re purring now. Then again, another vintage Messi dribble, gliding past opponents and wins a corner. The Argentina crowd salutes their hero.


62 mins: Alvarez, Mac Allister and De Paul’s hard work and pressing has been ideal to suit Messi’s lack of it at 35 years old age and allowing Messi to create and make openings. They got their reward with that goal. Hard to see a way back now for Australia. A free kick in a dangerous area though for Australia after Goodwin is fouled. Goodwin overhits the free kick though.


57 mins: GOAL FOR ARGENTINA! Mess up by the Australian keeper Ryan, who is pressed by De Paul and Julian Alvarez finishes well in the corner. They played along the back and back to Ryan who panicked. Now Australia are in big trouble.


54 mins: Backpass from Otamendi is sloppy and Duke almost gets in and keeper Martinez has to kick out of play. Throw in doesn’t come to anything and goal kick for Argentina.


51 mins: Off comes Papu Gomez, on comes Lisandro Martinez, winger for a centre back. Argentina go to a back three. Messi plays in De Paul and it comes to Messi just outside the box but his shot is blocked and straight into the keeper.


49 mins: Messi with some lovely passes to start the half, walking around and probing as always. Lots more Argentina possession.


HALF-TIME: Argentina 1 Australia 0

Good performance by Australia in the first half, they’ll be encouraged by their performance. But now they have to chase the game after another classic Lionel Messi moment on his 1,000th appearance. Argentina were doing nothing before that in a listless display, but it only takes a moment to score a goal.


45 mins: “If you don’t have the conjurer are you going to get the rabbit out of the hat?” asks George Hamilton on RTÉ. It’s hard to know what to make of Argentina in the tournament so far, will their erratic play be exposed by Netherlands should they go through, or is their chaotic nature an asset (like Real Madrid in this year’s Champions League)? One thing’s for sure, Messi is going down fighting in his last World Cup for Argentina. What a player.


43 mins: Messi goes down holding his shin after a tackle from Souttar. But seems like fair defending, maybe the size of Souttar meant a big bang. He’s up.


35 mins: GOAL FOR ARGENTINA! That man again, magic Messi! His first ever knockout goal and out of nowhere. His free-kick is cleared away and a few quick passes on the edge of the box, Messi gets it in the box and passes it through the legs of the defenders and right into the corner. 1,000 games and he’s still performing at the highest level.


32 mins: Duke with a nice turn but a good tackle by Romero. Messi gets the ball in the middle but he runs into a blind alley. McGree wins a free kick 40 yards out to be played in by Mooy after some good hold-up play.


29 mins: Chance for Australia from the corner as Souttar wins the header but it’s blocked. Argentina have been terrible so far, just haven’t shown up. Australia frustrating them.


24 mins: Australia growing in confidence. Mooy plays in Irvine in between the lines, he slips in Leckie and they win a corner. But it’s headed away by Otamendi.


21 mins: Australia finally with a few touches in the Argentina box as Behich bursts through but the defender does enough to push him out of play.


17 mins: Yellow card for Jackson Irvine, he will be suspended for the next game after a mistimed challenge on Acuna. Argentina rotate side to side for a few minutes. It all ends with Gomez taking a pot shot from distance that is well off target. 80 per cent possession for Argentina but not much happening.


14 mins: Messi with his customary turn and dribble gets a cheer from the crowd but then Argentina lose the ball again from midfield cheaply. Alvarez tries to take into his own hands with a driving run but good defending by Behich.


10 mins: Argentina still yet to create a chance of note as Otamendi plays a long ball to Alvarez but it goes out of play.


7 mins: Seems like it’s gonna be attack vs defence this one as Australia flood the defence early. Messi flattened by Baccus, lucky to avoid a card. Let him know you’re there challenge.


3 mins: Australia competing well with Argentina in the opening stages, not letting them through as Argentina dominate possession. Argentina call for a handball in the box, seems to hit the Australian player’s hand but not looked by VAR.


Watch the reaction as the Socceroos beat Denmark to go through to the next round in a magic moment for Australian soccer.

Head to head all-time between Argentina and Australia is five wins to Argentina, one draw and one loss. In competitive games, a draw and a win for Argentina in a 1994 World Cup playoff and a win in the Confederations Cup in 2005.


For Argentina, getting carried away is the whole point of football, writes Ken Early about how Argentina approach their games.

“It’s hard to imagine Gareth Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland shaking with tears after an England goal in a group match, as Pablo Aimár did on Argentina’s bench after Messi’s goal.

“These Argentinians, with their complex sad-happy chants, their rhythmically pulsing flags and scarfs, their wild lurching between mania and despair – and not forgetting their genius number 10s – they present an ideal of how to live football at its craziest, its most vivid, its most intense. Who wouldn’t look at them and think, I’ll have what they’re having?”


ICYMI: Netherlands beat USA 3-1 in today’s earlier game. They will play the winners of this game in the quarter-finals of the World Cup on December 9th. Netherlands defender Denzel Dumfries set up their first two goals and netted a decisive third to ensure the victory, thwarting US efforts at a late comeback.


Team news: Argentina have replaced forward Angel Di Maria with Alejandro Gomez, who starts alongside Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez in attack.

Australia also made one change to the side that beat Denmark in their last outing, bringing Keanu Baccus into midfield for Craig Goodwin, who scored their first goal of the tournament against France.

Argentina: Emiliano Martinez, Nahuel Molina, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Acuna, Rodrigo De Paul, Alexis Mac Allister, Enzo Fernandez, Alejandro Gomez, Julian Alvarez, Lionel Messi (c)

Australia: Mat Ryan (c), Milos Degenek, Harry Souttar, Kye Rowles, Aziz Behich, Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine, Riley McGree, Keanu Baccus, Mathew Leckie, Mitchell Duke


As all eyes turn to the greatest player of his era, Lionel Messi, on his 1,000th career game, news has broke that perhaps the greatest player of all eras and three-time World Cup winner Pele is in under palliative care amid a cancer battle. As Kylian Mbappé says, pray for the King of football.


Hello and welcome to live coverage of the second game of the day in the World Cup Last 16, Argentina take on Australia in Ahmad bin Ali Stadium. Few would have expected this match-up at this stage of the tournament but the Aussies shocked everyone with a last group game win over Denmark. Argentina have already been shocked in this tournament too, by Saudi Arabia in the opening game, but have settled into the World Cup with victories over Mexico and Poland. Nothing other than an Argentinian victory will be accepted by an expectant Argentina population.