Second tournament goal in the second game: Lionel Messi
Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
With a lot of effort, Lionel Messi and the Argentine national team won 2-0 (0-0) against Mexico at the World Cup.
In a tough game, a low-range shot broke Messi's spell (64th minute), Enzo Fernández followed up late with a remarkable flick (87th).
After the opening defeat against Saudi Arabia, another bankruptcy for Argentina would have already meant the World Cup after the preliminary round.
Thanks to the win against Mexico, the South American champions can still manage to win Group C on their own against Poland on Wednesday.
The first half was a sporting revelation of both teams, especially on the part of the Argentines.
Messi regularly picked up the balls from the center line.
But because hardly any teammates offered to play, it usually didn't take long for the ball to be lost.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni made three changes in defence, compared to the opening defeat by Saudi Arabia, but attacking was also woefully weak against Mexico.
A lone Argentinian goal was countered by a meager three shots from the Mexicans at the break.
The best chance came from Alexis Vega, whose free-kick was saved by Argentina's goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez (45').
Otherwise, Mexico mainly focused on defending, both teams committed numerous fouls that repeatedly interrupted the flow of the game.
Messi and Fernández save Argentina
That changed after the half-time break.
There was a little more movement in the Argentine offensive line, the game remained tough, but at least a few moves were made.
Individual actions were still needed for the goals: from about 20 meters away from the goal Messi, who drew level with Diego Maradona in his 21st appearance at a World Cup finals, placed the ball in the bottom right corner of the goal (64th).
Shortly before the end, Fernandez finally decided the game with a soulful shot into the far corner.