Argentina beat Netherlands 4-3 on penalties to set up a tasty semi-final with Croatia at the 2022 World Cup

Goals from Molina and talisman Messi seemed to be enough to seal the win for the night but substitute Weghorst scored a late brace to send the match to extra time and then penalties. Argentina as expected set up to play through Messi, with their talisman finding space between the lines.

He picked up a loose ball just past the center circle, ran at the Netherlands’ defense, and played in the overlapping Molina. His cross was cleared to De Paul, whose long-range shot is blocked. The  Netherlands slowly grew into the game but with both defenses standing firm, it was clear that it would take a moment of individual brilliance to set the pace.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 35th minute with Messi threading a perfect eye-of-the-needle through pass to the active Molina who poked the ball past Noppert to score his first international goal.

There was little action after the goal with another chance falling on Messi but his effort was too weak and Noppert collected the ball to maintain the one-goal deficit as the teams headed in for halftime.

The second half started with Louis van Gaal making a double substitution with Steven Berghuis and Teun Koopmeiners coming on for Steven Bergwijn and Marten de Roon as the Oranje tried to freshen up their static formation.

Van Gaal’s changes seemed to work with a huge percentage of possession at the hour mark favoring Holland but no clear site on goal for either side. In the 62nd minute, Messi smashed a spectacular free-kick just over the bar. Noppert was well beaten as the ball brushed the top of the net. Almost a second for Argentina!

Messi finally got his goal and Argentina’s second after Dumfries mistimed a tackle on Acuna at the edge of the penalty box. Messi stepped up and dispatched a cool shot with Noppert well beaten.

With just under 10 minutes to go, substitute Weghorst thumped in a perfect header to score Oranje’s first goal of the night with their first shot on target to set up a dramatic finale to the match.

Late into added time, Argentina conceded a dangerous free kick. Koopmeiners stood over the ball, but instead of shooting, he reversed a brilliantly clever pass into Weghorst. He took a touch, held off the defender, and angled a precise shot past Emi Martinez! What a goal to make it 2-2 and send the match to extra time.

Extra time flew by quite fast with half-chances falling on both sides but none could hit the back of the net to send the match to penalties with Emi Martinez proving to be an instant hero to send the Dutch packing.

 

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