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Lionel Messi's outrageous performance vs Poland deserves to go down in the history books

Daniel Marland

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| Last updated 

Lionel Messi's outrageous performance vs Poland deserves to go down in the history books

Lionel Messi's missed penalty in Argentina's 2-0 win over Poland shouldn't overshadow what will go down as one of this World Cup's most complete performances.

Goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez in the second half were enough to send Argentina through to the round of 16 as Group C winners on Wednesday evening.

It spared Messi's blushes, who had a first-half penalty saved by Wojciech Szczesny after being fouled by the Juventus goalkeeper.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner received pelters online following his miss. Usual chatter of 'ghosting' and 'Pessi' cluttered everyone's timeline. It couldn't be further from the truth.

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Best Moment:

With the scores 2-0 and the game winding down, Messi found pockets of space to work his magic. He saw a hole in Poland's backline before threading a ball through for Alvarez.

The Manchester City striker beat his marker for pace but failed to get his shot on target. A move that deserved a goal, effortlessly orchestrated by Messi.

In the video below, count how many times an unbothered Messi decides to go on a solo run. Nobody was touching him inside Stadium 974 unless they were cynically fouling him, like Robert Lewandowski.

Player Rating - 9/10:

The elephant in the room is obviously the penalty miss. Messi missed the chance to move to nine World Cup goals after seeing Szczesny win their bet. Does it take away from the 90 minutes of magic we witnessed? We're too used to perfection from Messi. A missed penalty in a game Argentina won means nothing.

Argentina was on a 36-match unbeaten run before their shock defeat to Saudi Arabia on matchday one. Messi felt stifled in that game, with Saudi players quickly surrounding him. A passive Poland should've taken note.

Messi during the game. (Image Credit: Alamy)
Messi during the game. (Image Credit: Alamy)

What was said about their performance?

Mac Allister was named Player of the Match after scoring his first goal for Argentina. Post-match, he claimed he would happily hand his award to close friend Messi for his contributions to the game.

When asked which teammate had a shout to win the award, the Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder told FIFA: "That's tricky, but I would always choose Leo. He makes things easier. Definitely him."

It could be viewed as Mac Allister throwing support behind his captain. On the other hand, it could be the mark of a man who knows Messi deserved the award over him.

Video highlights:

Overall verdict:

Messi scored against Saudi Arabia and Mexico, but he's officially arrived in Qatar. Now 35, Messi confirmed this is his final World Cup in an interview earlier this year.

"This will be my last World Cup - for sure. The decision has been made," Messi told Argentine journalist Sebastian Vignolo in October.

Coming top of the group means Argentina will face Australia on Saturday. That's a preferential draw, given Poland will face current holders France on Sunday afternoon.

We've got at least one more dose of Messi magic coming up in the knockouts.

Featured Image Credit: @Shelby_Messi/Twitter

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

Daniel Marland
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