Lionel Messi’s World Cup dream lives on after Argentina edged out the Netherlands on penalties after a hugely dramatic quarter-final at Lusail Stadium.
Messi looked to have inspired Argentina into a last-four meeting with Brazil’s conquerors Croatia when he set up Nahuel Molina’s opener 10 minutes before the break and then added the second from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute after Denzel Dumfries fouled Marcos Acuna.
Louis van Gaal, in his final game as Dutch coach, went for broke and it paid off as substitute Wout Weghorst led a sensational comeback by scoring twice, the second following an audacious free-kick routine 11 minutes into stoppage time.
A game of many flashpoints and more than a dozen yellow cards went to penalties, during which Aston Villa’s Argentina keeper Emi Martinez emerged as the hero, saving from Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis.
Messi scored his penalty and even though pressure mounted on Argentina when Enzo Fernandez dragged his spot-kick wide, Lautaro Martinez made the decisive contribution to spark wild scenes of celebration.