Argentina is just one win away from reaching the World Cup final. In the quarterfinals against the Netherlands, Lionel Messi towered over him - until Wout Weghorst equalized spectacularly at the last second. Things get hot in extra time, and the penalty shoot-out has to decide.
Magical Messi moments, a miraculous turnaround by Wout Weghorst - and a hero named Emiliano Martinez: the Aston Villa goalkeeper saved Argentina's place in the World Cup semi-finals in a dramatic 4-3 penalty shootout against the Netherlands. The South Americans had previously lost a 2-0 lead with their outstanding world star Lionel Messi because ex-Wolfsburg player Weghorst struck twice (83'/90' 11).
Until then, Argentina had looked like the sure winner, Messi brilliantly prepared the lead through Nahuel Molina (35th) and followed up from the penalty spot (73rd). With ten goals, he now shares Argentina's World Cup record with Gabriel Batistuta. Martinez, however, later became the main actor with his saves against Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis.
After the long stoppage time, Messi shook his head in disbelief, after the penalty shoot-out, in which he had scored himself, he could breathe a sigh of relief. Only the Croatians stand between the Argentines and their fifth gold cup final on Tuesday (8 p.m.). The Dutch are chasing after that in vain, even if Louis van Gaal almost initiated the turnaround.
Weghorst's substitution restored faith, a headed goal and his instinct for a free-kick trick overtime in a long one-sided game that ended in high tension. 88,235 spectators in the gigantic Lusail Stadium saw a tough duel with 16 yellow cards, also for Marcos Acuna and Gonzalo Montiel, who are suspended in the semifinals.
Argentina vs. the Netherlands, Part VI: Both teams provided the next memorable duel in the history of the World Cup classic, which has already seen dream goals (Dennis Bergkamp 1998), the birth of the "voetbal totaal" (1974) and a final drama (1978). would have. In Germany 2006, a certain Lionel Messi also made his World Cup starting XI debut, and in Brazil 2014 he scored on penalties to help Argentina reach the final.
This time the title should come, it's Messi's final chance to give his sporting vita the last gold dust. Fans celebrated even before kick-off, with eternal rivals Brazil's missed penalties in a 4-2 draw with Croatia making thousands of Argentinians dream of triumph in Qatar stronger than ever. They trust in Messi, their Messiah, who can replace Lothar Matthäus as World Cup record player with two more appearances. The 35-year-old had led the Argentines out of the valley of tears after the opening defeat against Saudi Arabia (1: 2).
Van Gaal had identified him - with all due respect - as a weak point. "Obviously Messi is their most dangerous and creative player. On the other hand, when the opponents have the ball, he doesn't participate much in the game. That's our chance," said the 71-year-old hopefully.
What Messi lacks, his fellow workers make up for - giving him the little bit of freedom he needs to bring his genius to the pitch. Ball acceptance, body deception, dream pass: Messi and Molina used the first gap in the Dutch defense to lead. Even Thomas Müller sent a heart for the superstar from Paris St. Germain through the Internet.
Elftal reacted with two changes, they had not lost 19 games, often convincing as a bulwark, but Messi showed them their limits. The high-class technician put a free-kick just centimeters over the goal after the hour and scored his fourth goal of the tournament after fouling Acuna from the penalty spot. The decision seemed to have come, but Wout Weghorst postponed it.