Lionel Messi opens 2022 World Cup account against Saudi Arabia with the coolest penalty
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Lionel Messi took just ten minutes to get off the mark in the 2022 World Cup and put Argentina 1-0 against Saudi Arabia.
The Copa America winners were awarded an early penalty at the Lusail Stadium after a VAR check deemed that Leandro Paredes had been fouled inside the area from a set-piece.
There was much less contact than Harry Maguire received from a corner in the first half of England's 6-2 win over Iran, yet on this occasion the referee pointed to the spot.
After a delay, Messi stepped up and stroked the ball home with incredible calmness. Mohammed Al-Owais was sent completely the wrong way as the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner opened his account.
Messi is playing his fifth and final World Cup and made history becoming the first Argentina player to score in four different editions.
4 - Lionel Messi is the fifth player to score at four different World Cup tournaments (2006, 2014, 2018, 2022) after Pelé, Uwe Seeler, Miroslav Klose and Cristiano Ronaldo. Legend. pic.twitter.com/EwEe0VOGEZ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 22, 2022
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar is Argentina's talisman and everything goes through him - with Messi having scored or assisted 14 of La Albiceleste's last 20 goals.
Since 2019, Lionel Scaloni's side have gone a ridiculous 36 games unbeaten and are considered to be one of the favourites for the Qatar showpiece.
Should they avoid defeat against Saudi Arabia, Argentina will level the unbeaten record set by Italy. Between 2018 and 2021, the Azzurri went 37 games without losing.
Messi had a second goal chalked off for offside before Lautaro Martinez had two strikes ruled out by VAR in a pulsating first half.
But early on in the second half, Saleh Al-Shehri equalised against the run of play after leaving Cristian Romero in the dust before beating Emiliano Martinez with a left-footed finish that went across the Aston Villa goalkeeper.
Saudi Arabia's fans went wild, providing a deafening noise when they found the net for the leveller and then there was utter pandemonium as Salem Al-Dawsari turned the game around completely.