Lionel Messi on rally vs. Netherlands: ‘We have a weight off our shoulders’

AL RAYYAN, Qatar – Lionel Messi’s World Cup dream might have ended within the wee hours on Saturday morning native time, and within the cruelest doable method.

Up 2-0 with 1 / 4 of an hour of normal time to play because of Messi’s aim from the penalty spot and an excellent help that solely the 35-year-old residing legend might have offered, Argentina surrendered two late objectives to Netherlands substitute Wout Weghorst – with the equalizer arriving within the eleventh minute of second half stoppage time. However the Albiceleste rallied throughout additional time, and ultimately gained the match on penalty kicks because of keeper Emiliano Martínez’s two saves.

“We have a weight off our shoulders,” Messi mentioned afterward. “We could have been out after being 2-0 ahead.”

Lionel Messi goes BEAST MODE for Argentina in opposition to the Netherlands within the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Lionel Messi goes BEAST MODE for Argentina against the Netherlands in the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Messi went so far as to recommend that there might have been some divine intervention concerned – from Argentina icon Diego Maradona. “Diego is watching us from heaven, he is pushing us,” Messi mentioned of Maradona, who led Argentina to its final World Cup title, in 1986.

Maradona died simply over two years in the past. On Nov. 25, the anniversary of his loss of life, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni implored his gamers to rebound from a shocking loss to Saudi Arabia of their first match at Qatar 2022 by beating Mexico the next day. They did, then reeled of wins in opposition to Poland and Australia to achieve the final eight. Subsequent, they’re going to play Croatia, which beat Brazil through that methodology earlier within the night (Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports activities app).

They took it to a distinct stage in opposition to the Dutch, controlling a lot of the sport after which overcoming the shock of giving up a final gasp equalizer.

“I told my players that the game was for us,” Scaloni mentioned. “We would have deserved to avoid the penalty shootout, but we fought until the end. It was a tough match and the Dutch team caused some trouble for us especially in the second half. It was a very strange second half. Everything was controlled for us but then we know what happens with football. It is a beautiful game but sometimes when you think that everything is over, then you are surprised.”

When the match went to the tiebreaker, the coach had no scarcity of choices. “When I had to decide the order of penalty takers,” Scaloni mentioned. “We had too many volunteers.”

Martínez ripped referee Mateu Lahoz for including 10 minutes of stoppage time after the 90 minutes had been up, however Scaloni declined to comply with go well with when requested post-match.

“I know him I have a very good relationship with him,” Scaloni mentioned of Lahoz. “I don’t want to talk about the referee. Luckily, everything I turned out well.”

Messi, then again, wasn’t impressed with the efficiency of the Spaniard, who issued a World Cup-record 15 yellow playing cards. He didn’t go too far “as you can be sanctioned, and you can’t be honest,” he mentioned earlier than including: “I don’t think he was up to the standard.”

Messi definitely was. Along with his aim and helper, he buried his effort within the shootout after Virgil van Dijk’s shot was stopped.

“Leo was very important – he showed why he is the best player of all time,” Scaloni mentioned. “We’re happy he’s on our side.”

Was Argentina vs. the Netherlands the BEST FIFA World Cup match?

Was Argentina vs. the Netherlands the BEST FIFA World Cup match?

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Doug McIntyre is a soccer author for FOX Sports activities. Earlier than becoming a member of FOX Sports activities in 2021, he was a employees author with ESPN and Yahoo Sports activities and he has coated United States males’s and girls’s nationwide groups at a number of FIFA World Cups. Comply with him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre. 

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