Argentina’s players linked arms and formed a long line to celebrate in front of their scarf-waving fans at one of end of the stadium to celebrate reaching the World Cup quarterfinals.
Messi delivered again for his country, marking the 1,000th game of his era-defining career with his first goal in the knockout stage of a World Cup to lead Argentina to a 2-1 win over Australia on Saturday.
The dream is still alive for the seven-time world player of the year and the tens of thousands of Argentina fans who dominated the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, massively outnumbering the small pockets of green-and-gold-clad Australia supporters to make it feel like a match in Buenos Aires or Rosario.
“These are amazing feelings, I am really happy to share their beautiful moment with the fans. I know how much effort they have put into coming here and I know the whole of Argentina want to be here. The bond, the union we have is something beautiful. It is unbelievable, the fans’ passion, energy and joy. It is unbelievable,” Messi said after the match.
Messi is one goal behind Gabriel Batistuta’s record of 10 for Argentina at World Cups.
Australia’s striker Jackson Irvine feels his team has put Australian football back on the map after their gallant display against Lionel Mess’s Argentina.
“When Argentina are celebrating like this, a victory against Australia, I think it shows what kind of opposition we gave them today,” he told SBS after the match.
“It’s difficult to comprehend everything at the moment. It’s all quite raw but yeah, I hope we made everyone proud.”
Argentina and the Netherlands will play their quarterfinal match at Lusail Stadium, the 89,000-seat venue where the final will be staged. The teams last met at the World Cup in 2014, when Argentina won a penalty shootout in the semifinals.