Lionel Messi has given Argentina the lead against Australia in this evening's World Cup round of 16 contest with an outrageous finish.
The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner led his teammates out at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in his 1000th game.
After a mediocre performance in their first Group C game against Saudi Arabia, Messi came to life against Mexico and Poland to secure first place.
In their path on Saturday was a resilient Australia side that kept two clean sheets to emerge from Group D as runners-up.
The game was a drab affair in the opening half an hour, with Australia happy to soak up pressure from Argentina's attack.
All that changed in an instant, thanks to Messi. The 35-year-old exchanged passes with Alexis Mac Allister on the edge of the box, who then laid the ball off to Rodrigo De Paul.
De Paul gently cushioned the ball to Messi, who took one touch to set himself. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar curled the ball through a gap in the Argentina defence and into the bottom left corner.
Mat Ryan was helpless as Messi and his teammates wildly celebrated.
It's Messi's third goal of the tournament after a penalty against Saudi Arabia and scorcher against Mexico. He's now passed Diego Maradona for number of goals scored at the World Cup. In addition to that, it's the 129th opponent he's scored against in his legendary career.
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni criticised the scheduling of his side's clash with Australia. He believes the turnaround from Wednesday to Saturday is 'absolute madness' given the level of quality required in Qatar. Perhaps it explains why the first half was slower pace than every other game so far.
"Australia, who finished second in the group, played at 6 p.m. and we finished first (in our group) but played at 10 p.m. We went to bed at 4 a.m. and that has an impact when you have a game in 48 hours," Scaloni told reporters per Reuters.
"We will break our backs on this pitch to compete, we know how difficult this World Cup is, this is football.
"We saw what happened on Thursday (Germany and Belgium's group stage elimination) but this is not surprising. When you say big national teams deserve to be in the next stage, that doesn't always happen."
Featured Image Credit: BBC Sport
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