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By Eniola Olatunji

Magical Lionel Messi played the game of his life at the Lusail Iconic Stadium, Qatar to lift his team, two times world champions Argentina from the clutches of early exit when he scored a breathe taking goal with his left foot from 25m after receiving a Di Maria telegraphic pass in the 64th minute – his first goal in the tournament.

The game was perhaps the roughest, toughest and risky game so far and you will wonder how the statistics are computed. A handsome 19 foul calls were on Mexico and 15 on Argentina as the played like Rugby men but only one yellow was given Argentina and four to Mexico. No red card was given anybody.

Just as the fans rooted for Mexico to get an equalizer for their efforts, this Messi came rampaging like the great Brazilian Pele in the 1970 world cup and found young man Enzo Fernandez who replaced central midfielder Guido Rodriguez in the 87th minute to score the second goal. No wonder Lionel Messi was announced Man of the Match.

Argentina was in control with 60% possession to 40%; had 3 shots on target to Mexico 1 shot; and had 4 corner kicks to Mexico’s 2.

The 47year old center Ref Daniel Orsato of Italy who officiated the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador last Sunday was excellent. It was a difficult match. Orsato was a VAR official at the 2018 world cup.

Aston Villa Goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez in goal for Argentina saved many situations for his team diving in every direction like Goalkeeper Henry Car the Cat of the Black Stars of Ghana.

Argentina maintains 100% victory over Mexico in all their meetings beating Mexico 6-3 on 19th July 1930 in the first round of the world cup; thrashed Mexico at the round of 16 of the world cup on 24th June 2006 2-1 after the game went into extra time at 1-1 and at the round of 16 in South Africa 2010 on 27th June still whipped Mexico 3-2.

All teams in Group C will however sleep with only one eye closed until after the final group matches are played because there is no clear winner yet like France who are through in Group D without the last group matches.

Poland leads group C with 4 points and +2 goals difference; Argentina jumped to second spot with 3 points like Saudi Arabia but are now superior with +1 goals while Saudi has -1. Mexico is down there with one point and -2 goals difference.

In the first round, Argentina fell 1-2 to Saudi who declared national public holiday after for beating Argentina at the world cup. Mexico had played goalless with Poland. Earlier today, Saudi Arabia lost 0-2 to Poland.

On Tuesday, 29th November Poland will decide the fate of Argentina in what will be a gruesome leather duel and Saudi needs a win over Mexico to keep hope alive. Both matches will be played at the same time 2000 hours.

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