Argentina had a 36-match unbeaten record entering this World Cup. But they were unable to get off to a winning start in the World Cup. Despite a penalty goal from Lionel Messi, they lost to Saudi Arabia 2-1. If they wanted to advance to the knockout stage, La Albiceleste had to beat Mexico by any means.
Before the game, the little magician remarked, “we have to win or we have to win.” His statement implied that there was no chance of the game ending in a loss or a tie. If they had lost today in front of 88,966 spectators at Lusail Stadium, they would have been eliminated.
Messi was the only person who could save his side from elimination in this stressful moment, and he succeeded. In the 64th minute of the game, he scored the opening goal and put his team on the road to victory. With only three minutes left on the clock, Enzo Fernandez then delivered the clinching blow with an assist from Messi. With this wonderful assist, the Argentine GOAT becomes the first player to assist in five consecutive FIFA World Cups.
🔥 ¡QUE GOLAAAAAZ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️!
— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) November 26, 2022
The outcome of the match goes well beyond the simple gain of three points. Argentina, one of the favorites to win the tournament, would have suffered a devastating early elimination from the World Cup if they had lost. Most crucially, Messi, who had already stated that this would be his final World Cup, would have returned home empty-handed.
LM10 expressed his feelings after the match, “After the goal, we became again who we are. So, it’s great — we needed this result, we needed this euphoria in this game that we had to win…. Everything came down to two single plays. We knew that today we had to win, that another World Cup started for us and we knew what to do. We cannot let our guard down now.”