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Argentina beat Netherlands to make it through to World Cup semi-finals, after an instant classic

Argentina beat Netherlands to make it through to World Cup semi-finals, after an instant classic

Lionel Messi helps Argentina make it through the World Cup quarter-finals, after defeating Netherlands on a penalty shoot-out.

Lionel Messi and Argentina went through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, after beating Netherlands on penalties, in an incredibly dramatic game.

For many, the narrative of the World Cup has been about whether or not Messi would be able to finally win it, in his final attempt.

He certainly looked like he would be the one to make the difference on Friday night, to take them through to his second semi.

The PSG forward provided possibly the assist of the tournament in the first half, as his through ball essentially took out six defenders to set up Nahuel Molina, in the 35th minute.

Messi then doubled his sides lead in the 73rd minute, scoring from the penalty spot after Denzel Dumfries had taken out Marcos Acuna.

Andries Noppert tried to put the seven time Ballon d'Or winner off but his attempts failed, and it looked certain to end Louis Van Gaal's record of never losing a World Cup knockout game in 90 minutes.

However, the Netherlands boss had a huge say on the game, sending on Luuk de Jong and Wout Weghorst on upfront to make a difference.

Weghorst may have flopped badly at Burnley but he showed why Sean Dyche believed he would get his side out of the Premier League relegation battle last season.

The tall defender nodded home the first goal in the 83rd minute, before only just missing a chance to equalise moments later, as he caused mayhem.

It looked like it was still all for nothing, as the two sides headed towards the end of 10 minutes of injury time with Argentina still ahead.

Weghorst was bundled over on the edge of the area, giving his side one last chance, and instead of shooting from the free kick they played a cheeky through ball, under the wall, to the striker, who poked home, sparking huge scenes.

That took the game into an additional 30 minutes, and left Van Gaal with his incredible record, somehow, and set up an exciting end.

Both teams were pretty open at times during extra time, but it looked for certain that the game would be heading to penalties.

Lautaro Martinez, Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernandez all had chances in the dying moments of play with the goalkeeper, a deflection and the post all coming to Netherlands' rescue.

And so to penalties it went, for the second time in the day, after Brazil had been knocked out by Croatia in the first quarter final.

Virgil van Dijk stepped up to take the first attempt but saw his effort saved by Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, instantly putting his side on the backfoot.

Messi then showed he learned from friend Neymar by taking Argentina's first, and scoring his second penalty of the night.

Netherlands were further behind when Steven Berghuis had his effort also saved and then Leandro Paredes made it 2-0 to the South Americans.

Teun Koopmeiners finally put the Europeans on the board, with Gozalo Montiens scoring Argentina's third, before Weghorst once again put the ball in the net.

Fernandez then missed his attempt, well wide of the post, before De Jong made it all square. However, Martinez ignored the pressure on his shoulders to score the final penalty and earn them a semi-final with Croatia on Tuesday.

Featured Image Credit: BBC Sport

Topics: Netherlands, Argentina, Football World Cup, Football, Lionel Messi