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Lionel Messi's 'Magic' Applauded by Twitter as Argentina Tops Mexico in World Cup

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVNovember 26, 2022

LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - NOVEMBER 26:   Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates at the end of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Mexico at Lusail Stadium on November 26, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

With their backs against the wall following a World Cup-opening loss to Saudi Arabia, Argentina players were saved Saturday in Qatar by the play of legendary superstar Lionel Messi.

Argentina would have been eliminated with a loss to Mexico, but Messi scored in the 64th minute and then assisted on Enzo Fernández's goal in the 87th minute to seal a 2-0 win over Mexico.

Messi's tiebreaking goal was a wonder strike from outside the box that beat the goalkeeper low and to the right to put Argentina ahead:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

MESSI 😱😱😱<br><br>Argentina takes the lead vs Mexico! 🇦🇷 <a href="https://t.co/iqDUyzzxlx">pic.twitter.com/iqDUyzzxlx</a>

Twitter erupted with praise for Messi after the goal, including a comment from Frank Isola of YES Network regarding the "magic" he made when given the opportunity:

Frank Isola @TheFrankIsola

All Messi needed was a little bit of space to create one moment of magic.

Men in Blazers @MenInBlazers

YES YES YES MESSI. HE WILL NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT, HE WILL BURN AND RAVE AT CLOSE OF DAY; RAGE, RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT 🇦🇷🇦🇷🇦🇷

adin @adinross

Messi is the greatest football player of all time.

Ryan O'Hanlon @rwohan

World Cup goals against Memo Ochoa should be worth three.

SPORTbible @sportbible

LIONEL MESSI STEPS UP WHEN HIS COUNTRY NEEDS HIM THE MOST! 🔥🤯🇦🇷 <a href="https://t.co/eFtyfJrroJ">pic.twitter.com/eFtyfJrroJ</a>

Managing Barça @ManagingBarca

The pressure was on. The world was watching. An entire nation's hope rested on his shoulders. Lionel Messi delivered.<br><br>Never doubt him. <a href="https://t.co/GEdYV1iU3h">pic.twitter.com/GEdYV1iU3h</a>

Twitter was also abuzz regarding the history Messi made with his second goal of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, including matching the career World Cup goal total of fellow Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona:

CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ @CBSSportsGolazo

Lionel Messi 🤝 Diego Maradona<br><br>🇦🇷 8 goals in 21 World Cup appearances 🇦🇷 <a href="https://t.co/zbeyBBbRaf">pic.twitter.com/zbeyBBbRaf</a>

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Lionel Andrés Messi. Two goals in this World Cup, eight total World Cup goals in his career. ⭐️🇦🇷 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Qatar2022?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Qatar2022</a> <a href="https://t.co/WSL06AD6cg">pic.twitter.com/WSL06AD6cg</a>

In the loss to Saudi Arabia, Argentina was unable to add to the 1-0 lead it earned in the 10th minute despite several high-quality opportunities. On Saturday, the team did not make the same mistake.

Argentina effectively ended any hope of a Mexico comeback in the 87th minute when Messi fed Fernández and the 21-year-old scored to extend the lead to 2-0:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

TWO FOR ARGENTINA 🇦🇷<br><br>Enzo Fernández with a BEAUTY <a href="https://t.co/XMACd77tNv">pic.twitter.com/XMACd77tNv</a>

That completed a dominant stat line for Messi, who played one of his best World Cup matches when the pressure was at its highest:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Lionel Messi’s game by numbers vs. Mexico:<br><br>88% pass accuracy <br>64 touches <br>36 passes completed <br>8 ground duels won <br>2 dribbles completed <br>1 key pass<br>1 assist <br>1 goal <br><br>Scored another memorable goal for Argentina. 👏 <a href="https://t.co/RFFHNmAxRT">pic.twitter.com/RFFHNmAxRT</a>

Instead of being sent home with a loss, Argentina is now tied for second in its group with three points, along with Saudi Arabia. The team also trails first-place Poland by only one point.

While several different scenarios could result in Argentina advancing to the knockout stage, the one way to guarantee it would be a win over Poland.

Argentina entered the World Cup as one of the top contenders to win, and while the narrative changed quickly after losing to Saudi Arabia, Messi put his team right back in the mix in what is almost certainly the 35-year-old's final World Cup.