•Messi scores in 1000th game against Aussie
Lionel Messi’s dream of the World Cup trophy remained on course yesterday as he led Argentina to defeat Australia 2-1 and set up a quarter final clash with The Netherlands.
Australia were content to frustrate their opponents at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, but Messi carved the Socceroos open in trademark fashion as half-time approached – picking out the bottom-left corner to net.
If Argentina’s first goal was sublime, their second bordered on the ridiculous as Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan gifted possession to Julian Alvarez, who made no mistake to seal the win.
Australia halved the arrears when Craig Goodwin’s effort deflected off Enzo Fernandez and beyond Emiliano Martinez, but Argentina never looked likely to be pegged back as they teed up a quarter-final clash with the Netherlands.
Argentina struggled to make any early headway as Graham Arnold’s men defended resolutely, but La Albiceleste had their seven-time Ballon d’Or winner to thank when they took the lead with their first real attack.