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Messi was and is a game changer

Published : 27 Nov 2022 09:36 PM | Updated : 28 Nov 2022 02:34 PM

It is Messi who makes it possible and he proved that he can make it and he did it.  Lionel Massi, the legendary football star of the living history and the heartthrob of the billions of football crazy fans in the world, has brought Argentina again to the competitions of the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

When millions of Argentine fans were anxiously waiting at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar to see what is going to happen with Mexico, the world football legend came up with a spectacular shot with his left leg and pushed the ball in the net before the Mexican goalkeeper sensing anything dangerous.

Argentina's supporters gathered in their thousands at Qatar's Energy City adjacent to the vast Lusail Stadium with only one man on their minds as they faced World Cup jeopardy.

Lionel Messi has carried the hopes of this football-mad nation for most of his career, but there was an added layer of tension as Argentina confronted old rivals Mexico in an ear-splitting atmosphere on the stage that will host the final.

Argentina knew defeat would effectively end their World Cup campaign after two games following the embarrassment of the loss to Saudi Arabia in the opener. Messi knew this would mean the major honour that has eluded his grasp in a glittering career would be forever out of reach.

Messi was, once again, shouldering the burden of Argentina's expectations - and once again he delivered by pulling out a piece of trademark magic when they needed it most to change the course of an antirational game, and perhaps even change the course of his team's World Cup in the process.

The clock showed 64 minutes. Each passing second turned up the pressure valve on Argentina and, in turn, on Messi. He knows any Argentina failure on this stage, justified or not, can be painted as Messi's failure.

He had been on the margins but took centre stage to devastating effect as Mexico fell victim to the magical left foot that has broken the hearts of so many opponents.

One touch delicately killed the pass from Angel de Maria. The second touch arrowed a low finish into the bottom corner past the outstretched left arm of Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Amid an explosion of noise from Argentina's fans, Messi ran towards them with arms outstretched in that familiar celebratory pose. He looked highly emotional with the relief and release, engulfed by teammates who knew the man they rely on most had delivered again.

When the crowd of players dispersed, Messi stood in front of the light blue and white-clad supporters pumping his arms in exultation. He knew what it meant to them. They knew what it meant to him - mutual ecstasy.

The greatest players deliver when it matters so it should be no surprise Messi produced again.

Until that moment, it had not been an easy night for Messi against Mexico, who clearly relished the idea of putting the skids under an Argentina side heavily tipped to lift the World Cup in this same Lusail Stadium on 18 December.

Messi had been marginalised by Mexico. He could not exert any influence in a first-half morass of stoppages and infringements, the 35-year-old often at walking pace looking for a patch of space where he could escape close Mexican attentions.

It was when a football match eventually broke out in the second half that Messi flourished with the characteristic darting runs, the quick passes and, of course, the stroke of genius that broke the deadlock.

Argentina relaxed thanks to Messi, this team's security blanket, and Enzo Fernandez added a glorious second with a curling right-foot shot after 87 minutes.

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