Argentina Player Ratings vs Australia: Messi Inspires Another Win

Argentina squeezed past a spirited Australia side, pulling off a 2-1 win at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium to reach the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals. It was a tough game for the CONMEBOL powerhouse, yet they had enough quality to send the Socceroos packing.

Despite succumbing to a shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia on the opening matchday in Qatar, Argentina fought back to convincingly claim a top spot in Group C. After Lionel Messi inspired them to a 2-0 win over Mexico in round two, an unanswered second-half double earned La Albiceleste a comfortable triumph against Poland last time out.

As a result, the Argentines have qualified for the World Cup knockouts for the fifth consecutive tournament. Lionel Scaloni’s team took the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium pitch as clear-cut favorites to set up a mouth-watering quarter-final tie against the Netherlands. However, apart from Alejandro Papu Gomez’s wayward finish from outside the box early in the game, they looked toothless for most of the first half.

But that’s the benefit of having one of the greatest players of all time on your side. Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi smuggled a low attempt through the forest of legs from the edge of the box into the bottom corner of Matthew Ryan’s goal to put Argentina in front in the 35th minute. Messi’s moment of inspiration handed Argentina a slender halftime lead, yet it wasn’t a sublime display from the South Americans.

Luckily for them, Matthew Ryan’s poor giveaway in the 57th minute offered Julian Alvarez a gift he had no problems converting into Argentina’s second. Everything was going smoothly for Scaloni’s side before Craig Goodwin’s long-range effort took a bizarre deflection of Enzo Fernandez and finished in Emiliano Martinez’s low far corner.

Unfazed by their opponents’ goal, Argentina came close to scoring a third but a lack of composure in front of goal caused the scoreline to remain 2-1.

Argentina (4-3-3)

Emiliano Martinez – 7

Apart from frequent time-wasting, he couldn’t have done anything to deny Goodwin’s goal and was otherwise a spectator throughout the game. However, his last minute save from Kuol saved the day for Argentina.

Nahuel Molina – 6

Another disappointing showing from the ex-Udinese man, as if Diego Simeone stripped him of the ability to go forward and cross. But he at least did well in defense, thwarting any attempt from Riley McGree to make progress down the flank.

Cristian Romero – 6

A decent performance from the former Atalanta center-back, especially late in the game when Australia threatened to take the match into extra-time.

Nicolas Otamendi – 6.5

Nothing more you can expect from an aging center-back, who knew how to compensate for a lack of speed by positioning himself to perfection on almost every occasion.

Marcos Acuna – 5.5

Acuna is lucky that Argentina can only call upon out-of-sorts Nicolas Tagliafico, as he’d be nailed to the bench for this abysmal display in other circumstances. Completely out of pace in the attacking third while committing several clumsy challenges in his own half.

Enzo Fernandez – 6

Though he occupied a more conservative role than he usually takes at Benfica, one of the most exciting midfield prospects delivered another mature performance, distributing the ball well while providing additional coverage to his backline.

Alexis Mac Allister – 6

Nowhere to be seen in the first half, Brighton & Hove Albion’s prized asset excluded himself from the build-up play, which often saw Argentina fail to unlock the Socceroos’ low block.

Rodrigo De Paul – 6.5

Those days of De Paul tearing up defenses on his own accord vanished the day he swapped Udinese for Atletico Madrid. Tonight’s performance against Australia showed he’s no longer an architect but rather a ‘pit bull.’

Alejandro Papu Gomez – 4.5

Back to the starting XI for the first time since a day-one loss to Saudi Arabia, the former Atalanta forward once again looked clueless on the pitch, giving away possession cheaply while failing to find a single meaningful pass up top. No wonder he left the field before the 50th minute.

Lionel Messi – 7.5

It had to be him! La Pulga picked out his stop brilliantly from a tight angle to open the scoring amid Argentina’s dreadful spell, laying the foundation for another World Cup triumph. Too bad Lautaro Martinez’s finish let him down, Messi could’ve had a couple of assists to his name tonight.

Julian Alvarez – 6

Practically invisible until that 57th minute, the Manchester City starlet took full advantage of Ryan’s blunder to double his team’s lead and put the game beyond doubt. Other than the goal, he didn’t have much of the ball.


Lisandro Martinez – 6

Did enough to rebuff Australia’s late push.

Nicolas Tagliafico – N/A

Lautaro Martinez – 3

Squandered a glorious opportunity from point-blank range to ease the pressure on Argentina after being played in nicely by Messi. Not once, not twice but three times!

Gonzalo Montiel – N/A

Exequiel Palacios – N/A