Lionel Messi’s 35th-minute goal against Australia in the last 16 of the 2022 World Cup saw him surpass Diego Maradona’s record at the tournament. Messi produced an impressive performance to inspire the Argentines to a hard-fought win against a determined Australian side.
The game against the Asian giants was Messi’s 1000th career appearance, and the well-taken goal was his 789th. It was also the first in the knockout stage of the World Cup.
The goal was his third in Qatar, as he had scored twice before against Saudi Arabia and Mexico in the group stages. He was close to scoring in all three group games, but Poland’s keeper Wojciech Szczesny saved his penalty.
The game started slowly, with Argentina dominating possession without causing problems for Australia. But it’s Messi’s magic that opened the scoring last in the first half. The Socceroos came out guns blazing in the second half, but Mat Ryan’s mistake saw Argentina double their lead around the hour mark.
His sublime finish took him one clear of Argentina hero and icon Maradona and just one behind compatriot Gabriel Batistuta, according to the Mirror. The effort was also his 94th for Argentina, including nine at the World Cup, with his strike against Australia.
The late Maradona scored in the 1982, 1986, 1990, and 1994 World Cups. His performance at the 1986 World Cup remains one of the best, if not the best. He inspired his country to their second World Cup that year, according to Transfermarkt.
Messi will look to inspire his country to their first win since 1986 and have been tipped as favourites. However, they will have to beat the Netherlands in the quarter-final and possibly Brazil in the semis.