By directly contributing to both of Argentina’s goals against the Netherlands, Lionel Messi motivated his team to victory and set up a matchup with Croatia in the FIFA World Cup (WC) Semifinal.
When these two teams last faced off, in the 2014 World Cup Semifinals, Louis van Gaal was in charge of the Netherlands. The Netherlands lost on penalties following a goalless draw, and given the unremarkable start to this match, another shoot-out seems completely possible.
Since entering the Dutch goalie position, Andries Noppert has appeared confident, but his early hazardous pass briefly sparked anxiety.
With halftime drawing near, Lionel Scaloni made adjustments to Argentina’s style to add wing-backs for the first time this World Cup, closely mirroring their opponents.
In the final third, Messi received the ball and sent a flawless no-look pass to right winger Nahuel Molina, who tapped low past Noppert.
A flurry of yellow cards kept the stadium announcer busy in the waning seconds of the half, but Albicelestes goalie Emiliano Martnez saw no action.
Argentina looked comparatively at ease as they held the Dutch to just one off-target shot before the hour mark, their 12th HT lead in 14 games this season.
The game gradually opened up as Van Gaal’s team ran out of time as the Netherlands grew less defensive, giving Argentina opportunities to counter.
Messi, who never fails to excite a crowd, won a free kick on the edge of the area, and his ensuing shot just missed the goal.
With less than 20 minutes of normal time left, the Netherlands had provided very little in the way of attack, and it seemed like the game was finished.
At this time, Marcos Acua had put up an active performance, and his chop-back persuaded Denzel Dumfries to make a foolish challenge, forcing referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz to call a penalty.
Messi took the opportunity unfazed to make it 2-0, leaving Noppert helpless and bringing his 2022 World Cup tally to four.
Despite needing a miracle, the Netherlands managed to score with their first shot on goal when substitute Wout Weghorst headed in a cross from Steven Berghuis, much like Croatia did in the earlier kickoff.
Unbelievably, a tense stoppage-time session eventually resulted in a jaw-dropping last-second equalizer as Weghorst swept in his second after Teun Koopmeiners’ creative free-kick routine.
A 14th yellow card was displayed during a tense and cautious 30 minutes of extra time, bringing to mind the memorable Battle of Nuremberg, in which the Netherlands were ultimately eliminated from the World Cup.
The post saved Enzo Fernández from scoring in the last seconds, bringing the game to a penalty shootout. Van Gaal’s team survived the late barrage of Argentine opportunities.
Argentina was in the lead after two saves from Martnez before Fernández wasted the opportunity to win the match.
To bury the crucial penalty kick and advance Argentina to the semi-finals, where they will face Croatia for the first time since their 3-0 defeat in the 2018 World Cup group stage, Lautaro Martnez stepped up.
Crotia Dumped Brazil Out of the World Cup
In the FIFA World Cup (WC) Quarter-Finals, Croatia shocked five-time champion Brazil, and Dominik Livakovi was once again their hero.
After 120 minutes, Bruno Petkovi had equalized Neymar’s earlier goal, and Livakovi, who had made a number of save during regular play, had saved a penalty before Marquinhos hit the post with a shot.
Given that Croatia had only given up two goals en route to the quarterfinals, the opening exchanges were close.
Vincius Jnior had a good opportunity, but it was easily stopped. Neymar had the finest opportunity of the second half when a deft move ended with the Paris Saint-Germain forward hitting a feeble effort too near to Livakovi.
In the last third, Zlatko Dali’s team lacked fluidity as they battled an aging but resolute Brazil defense.
In a half that was primarily played in the middle of the field, the Croatians scarcely came close to Alisson’s goal aside from Josip Juranovi cutting inside and crazily blasting over from outside the box.
Joko Gvardiol nearly put Éder Milito’s cross into his own goal right after the halftime break as the Seleço began to play with more purpose.
However, Livakovi saved him by stopping Neymar at his near post and stopping Lucas Paqueta with a close-range save.
Croatia, who had gone to extra time in each of their previous four World Cup knockout games (apart from the 2018 final), struggled to leave their own half as Brazil appeared to be the only team aiming to win it in 90 minutes.
Livakovi, their Round of 16 hero after stopping three shots in a shootout, kept his team in the game by stopping additional shots from Neymar and Paqueta.
It took an additional 30 minutes to separate the two teams, but even then, Tite’s side continued to dominate without receiving any points.
After excellent work from Petkovi, Marcelo Brozovi blew a rare opportunity at the opposite end, and he was made to pay when Neymar finally broke the tie.
Brazil’s talisman shared a lovely one-two with Paqueta in the extra time of the first half of ET before he rounded Livakovi and lifted the ball into the roof of the net.
In an effort to salvage a goal for Croatia, Dali substituted multiple attacking players. With the clock ticking down, Croatia unexpectedly equalized with their lone chance on goal when Petkovi’s shot bounced out of Alisson’s grasp and into the net.
There was still time for one more twist, as Livakovi produced yet another outstanding stop against Casemiro late in regulation to necessitate another round of penalties.
Brazil’s first penalty kick was saved by Rodrygo, and from that point on they were up against it. Marquinhos went up with Neymar still waiting to take, needing to score to keep Brazil’s World Cup dream alive, but the defender hit the post.
Brazil loses in the quarterfinals for the fourth time in the previous five World Cups, while Croatia advances to play either the Netherlands or Argentina in the semifinals.