Home South Africa Messi’s magical guides steer Argentina past struggling Mexico – SABC News

Messi’s magical guides steer Argentina past struggling Mexico – SABC News

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Lionel Messi scored in the 64th minute and Enzo Fernandez added another late in the game to give Argentina a 2-0 victory over Mexico in Saturday’s World Cup Group C match and revive their tournament hopes.

Messi, who equaled Diego Maradona’s Argentine record of 21 World Cup appearances, was out of sight for more than an hour before picking up Angel Di Maria’s pass, finding enough space and lashing in with his left foot from 20 yards.

Substitute Fernandez made sure of the three points with a superb strike into the top corner in the 87th minute.

The result restored order for the Argentines in Group C after they lost 1-2 to Saudi Arabia.

Argentina, who have three points, can guarantee progress with a win in their final game on Wednesday against top-four Poland.

Mexico, who have now lost all four of their World Cup matches against Argentina, have one point and need to beat Saudi Arabia with three to have a chance of continuing their run of last-16 appearances at the last seven World Cups, but even that could fall short.

Tensions were high both on and off the ball in a scrappy first half, with Argentina at the prospect of elimination, but the two sets of fans created an electric atmosphere in the stadium.

The opening period did not live up to the demands of the match as neither team wanted to put too many players forward and apart from Mexico’s Luis Chavez’s ninth-minute free-kick, which flew wide, chances were few and far between.

Mexico’s high pressing kept most of the opposition’s attacks at bay, and Argentina’s talisman Messi struggled to find space to maneuver in a congested midfield.

Apart from Lautor Martinez’s effort, which was badly missed, and another from Messi, Argentina were toothless up front.

But in a major blow to Mexico, captain Andres Guardado, a veteran of five World Cups and by then a big part of midfield, was forced off injured in the 42nd.

The Mexicans had two more chances before the break, with Alexis Vega first curling over the wall from a free-kick to save keeper Emiliano Martinez, and minutes later he fired over the bar.

The South Americans looked more determined after the break but had no real chances until their 35-year-old captain pulled them out of trouble with his second goal of the tournament.

The stadium erupted in cheers again after Fernandez’s late strike sealed Argentina’s first win of the tournament and revived Messi’s hopes of a first-ever World Cup.

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