Messi scores the winning goal for Argentina against Mexico

Messi notches the game-winning goal for Argentina in their matchup against Mexico. These are the highlights.

Messi scores the winning goal for Argentina against Mexico
For Argentina's game versus Mexico, Messi scores the game-winner. Credit: BigFresh

The first goal scored by the team's brightest star, Lionel Messi, helped Argentina beat Mexico 2-0 in a World Cup final group game on Saturday and put their chances of reaching the eighth-finals in good shape.

Messi scored in the second half after the Mexican national team had kept their goal safe for more than an hour. Enzo Fernandez doubled the lead near the end of regulation time after Messi's cross.

All four teams in Group C are in contention for the knockout round before the last round of matches. Argentina will play the Poles in the final group round, while the Mexicans will take on Saudi Arabia.

In an energetic first half, the Mexicans were involved in a scramble for the ball at the slightest opportunity, denying Argentina the chance to rely on their technical players in attack. Neither team was able to create any safe scoring opportunities. After the break, the Argentinians gradually penetrated their opponents' defense and scoring was the logical sequel.

Messi converted his chance in the 64th minute when his shot from over 30 yards found its way low into the bottom corner of the net. After going behind, the Mexicans resumed their search for a way into the opponents' goal, but any mistake risked a dangerous counter-attack.

In the 87th minute, Fernandez showed excellent ball-handling skills in the penalty area, set up a shooting opportunity, and hit the far corner of the net. Earlier on Saturday, in Group C, the Polish national team beat Saudi Arabia in a match between Argentina and Mexico.

Argentina - Mexico. FIFA World Cup match

The match ended with Argentina winning 2:0.

Only 6 minutes left in injury time.

Enzo Fernandez finishes the attack with a great shot to the far corner of the goal.

Argentina lead 2-0.

The Mexicans fail to pose a real threat to their opponents' goal, rather Argentina opens up opportunities for the counter-attack.

Mexico resumes their attacking efforts, but mistakes and losing the ball immediately open up opportunities for Argentina to counterattack.

Argentina continues to attack - a free kick from the edge of the penalty area by Nauels Molina is too high.

Messi silences his critics and hits the bottom corner of the net with a long-range effort.

Argentina lead 1-0. Messi.

The Mexicans stop trying to take the ball away from their opponents at the first opportunity, which allows the Argentine team to approach the penalty area with ease.

The Argentinians start to get more organized, but the Mexicans turn away the threat in the penalty area.

Messi shoots over the wall of players and into the Mexican goal.

Messi is brought down in the penalty area and Eric Gutierrez is shown a yellow card.

The game resumes after the break.

In the first half, both teams spent more than half of the time (57%) in the middle of the park.

The first half is a hard-fought battle, the score 0:0.

5 minutes of injury time remaining.

Vega converts the penalty kick, but Damian Martinez makes a safe save in the Argentine goal.

Argentina's leader Lionel Messi is denied a chance to prove his skills by the Mexican diligence.

The pace of the game has slowed down a bit, with more of the ball going to the Argentine players, but no threat to the opposition's goal.

Fans of both teams are tirelessly heating the atmosphere in the stands, providing a deafening soundtrack to the game.

In an aggressive match, the first yellow card goes to Mexico's Nestor Araújo for a tackle on Marcos Akunya.

It's more of a battle on the pitch, with no chance for the teams to form organized attacks.

At the first opportunity, the Mexicans are fighting for every ball, both in defense and in the opponent's half of the field.

Although Argentina have more control of the ball, the Mexicans play very aggressively, trying to prevent their opponents from taking any action.

The Mexican team doesn't hesitate to attack and the Argentinians are forced to defend for long periods, but they do it successfully.

The players have stopped the referee, which shows both emotion and tension. The reason is an elbow to the face of Mexico's Alexis Vega on Gonzalo Montiel in the tackle for the ball.

The statistics are encouraging for the Argentinians - they haven't lost to Mexico since the 2004 America's Cup. Since then, in 10 games, they have had seven wins and three draws.

The game is on!

The dilemma for Argentina after their defeat against Saudi Arabia is simple: a loss against Mexico will mean that their World Cup dream has already been dashed in the group stage.

The Argentine and Mexican anthems are played before the game.

Both teams take the field.

In the first group match, Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia (1:2), while the Mexicans drew with Poland (0:0). The 32 national teams qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar are divided into eight groups for the first stage of the tournament, and will play a round-robin tournament until 2 December. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the knockout phase, which will end with the final on 18 December.

Analysis of the game and future chances

Mexico's loss to Argentina and Saudi Arabia's loss to Poland does not leave either of the losers out of Qatar, nor does it secure a place in the second round of the World Cup for Poland and Argentina. Group "C", which will return to final action on Wednesday, is led by Poland with four points and a two-goal difference, followed by Argentina with three points and a goal scored, Saudi Arabia with three points and a goal conceded, and Mexico with one point and two goals conceded. From this we can derive multiple options, for example:

  • If Poland and Argentina draw, Poland qualifies.
  • If Saudi Arabia beat Mexico, they would reach 6 points and could qualify, depending on the Poland-Argentina result.
  • If Argentina beats Poland, and Saudi Arabia beats Mexico, both would advance with 6 points.
  • Argentina must beat Poland and await the result of the next match to know if they advance or not.

And so the combinations could go on depending on the points and goal difference of the four teams, but what we are interested in is what Mexico needs to advance: they need to get to four points by beating Saudi Arabia, and by a landslide to save any Poland-Argentina result that might affect their numbers.

But Mexico doesn't just need maths, it also needs goals. So far they have failed to score a goal in two games and that is a cause for concern.

All four teams in Group "C" play on Wednesday, first Poland-Argentina, which could give more clarity. A draw would not suit Argentina as they would risk being eliminated a few hours later by either the Arabs or the Mexicans. Poland, on the other hand, would secure their qualification with a draw.

This shows the importance of the first match against Poland, which they were unable to win. The defeat against Argentina was predictable. They had beaten us in the three friendly matches played since 2019, they had scored 8 goals against us and now there are 10, against zero from us. In short, uncertainty continues to surround the group, although Mexico has so far borne the brunt of it.