Argentina’s top title contenders recovered from disappointing debut and maintained its chances of advancing to the World Cup with a 2-0 win over Mexico on Saturday with goals from Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernandez.
With the victory in the framework of the second day, Argentina was in second place in Group C with three units along with Saudi Arabia, one point behind leader Poland and two above rival Mexico.
“Very complicated to get up because Mexico plays well, has a good coach, handles the ball. The first half we played with a lot of intensity and the second, when we calmed down and started playing the ball, we were back to being what we are and the goals fell,” Messi said after the game.
“We knew that today was another World Cup for us and we could do it,” he added.
In the match played at the Lusail stadium in front of more than 80,000 fans, both teams were fearful from the beginning when betting on taking few risks based on the order of their players and the balance between their lines.
Messi, who equalled Diego Maradona’s record of 21 World Cup games, struggled to find spaces to partner with teammates or level with his players, while Angel Di Maria could not exploit his speed, so his Argentine team lacked depth.
In the first stage, the only approach of the “Albiceleste” came in the 40th minute through a header from Lautaro Martínez that was deflected after a center by Ángel Di María.
Three minutes later, the “Tri” responded through its good use of the stopped ball, with a free kick executed by Alexis Vega that stopped the goal Emiliano Martínez.
Mexico suffered a significant loss at the end of the first half, when Andrés Guardado had to leave due to injury.
“Mexico closed lines and luckily we opened the way with Leo’s goal,” Enzo Fernandez said after the game.
Argentina showed more attitude in the second stage and began to play closer to the Mexican goal in search of the necessary victory so as not to complicate their qualification to the next round.
The goal that opened the scoring came in the 63rd minute thanks to a genius of Messi to overcome the goal Guillermo Ochoa with a low shot and corner from outside the area, after a pass from Di Maria from the right to the center.
After taking advantage, the team led by Lionel Scaloni maintained momentum and carried danger on several occasions without being able to specify.
The second Albiceleste goal was given at 86 through a cross shot by the young Enzo Fernández, after a hook inside the area that dislocated the rival defense.
To qualify, Argentina needs to beat Poland on Wednesday in the last round, while Mexico must draw a win against Saudi Arabia and wait for the result of the other match.