The Argentine soccer team, one of the big candidates for the title, has bounced back from a disappointing debut and kept its chances of progressing to the World Cup round after beating Mexico 2-0 on Saturday with goals from Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernández.
With the victory on matchday two, Argentina were in second place in Group C with three units together with Saudi Arabia, one point behind leaders Poland and two above its rival Mexico.
“Very difficult to get back up because Mexico play well, they have a good coach, they manage the ball. We played the first half with great intensity and the second, when we calmed down and started playing the ball, we went back to being who we are and the goals fell” Messi said after the match, second Reuters.
“We knew another World Cup was starting for us today and we could do it,” he added.
In the match played at the Lusail stadium in front of more than 80,000 fans, both selected teams feared from the start, betting on taking few risks based on the order of their players and the balance between their lines.
Messi, who equaled Diego Maradona’s record of 21 World Cup matches, had difficulty finding space to associate with his teammates or erratic with his dribbling, while Ángel Di María could not exploit his pace, for which his Argentine team lacked depth.
In the first phase, the only approach from the “Albiceleste” came in the 40th minute with a header from Lautaro Martínez that went wide from Ángel Di María’s cross.
Three minutes later, the “Tri” responded by making good use of the stopped ball, with a free-kick from Alexis Vega which was saved by goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez.
Mexico suffered a significant defeat late in the first half when Andrés Guardado had to sit out through injury.
“Mexico closed the lines and fortunately we led the way with Leo’s goal,” said Enzo Fernandez after the match.
Argentina showed more aptitude in the second phase and started playing closer to the Mexican goal in search of the necessary victory in order not to complicate the qualification to the next round.
The goal that opened the scoring came in the 63rd minute thanks to Messi’s genius in beating goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa with a low shot from outside the box, following a pass from Di María from right to centre.
After taking the lead, Lionel Scaloni’s team kept up their momentum and put themselves in danger on several occasions without being able to specify.
The doubling for Albiceleste comes in the 86th minute from a cross by young Enzo Fernández, after a tear inside the area that unbalances the rival defence.
To qualify, Argentina must beat Poland in their final fixture on Wednesday, while Mexico must win against Saudi Arabia and wait for the result of their other match.