Argentina reached the semi-finals of the Qatar World Cup 2022, by defeating the Netherlands on penalties (4-3), on Friday, after the two sides tied in the original and extra time with two goals for the same, in the “Lusail” stadium in the quarter-finals.
Caution prevailed in the match in its first 10 minutes, before Argentina imposed its advantage by controlling the middle of the field in a different tactical style than before.
Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni played with three elements in the midfield who supported them in the event of a shift to the attack, two players on the outskirts of the five defenses, Nahuel Molina and Marcos Acunieh, while Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez are present in the front line.
The first real threat to the Dutch goal came from a surprise ball fired by Messi on the horizontal bar, followed by Rodrigo de Paul with a similar one that was blocked by goalkeeper Andres Nobert.
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In the 35th minute, Messi received a ball in the middle of the Netherlands, kicked it off, and then passed brilliantly from among the defenders to Molina, coming from behind, so that the latter scored the goal that gave Argentina the lead.
After the break, the Dutch rushed in the hope of adjusting and attacked in their usual style by building from behind and trying to penetrate with short passes that had the Argentine defense present to prevent any opportunity to approach Emiliano Martinez’s goal.
The Argentine’s rapid shift from defense to attack confused the Dutch defense and prompted him to commit a mistake in the restricted area, as a result of which the referee awarded a penalty kick that Messi translated into a second goal in the 73rd minute, equaling Gabriel Batistuta’s number as the best scorer for the “Tango” in the World Cup (9 goals).
After the goal, coach Louis van Gaal tried to recycle the “mills” through several changes, which resulted in the 83rd minute with a goal by which substitute Wouter Figurst reduced the difference with a beautiful header that settled on the right side of the Argentine goal.
The last minutes witnessed great offensive pressure from the Dutch national team, which had already managed to equalize in the 11th minute of wasted allowance time, after a clever foul that Figurst took advantage of and scored, so the match went into overtime.
The Argentine national team was the best side in the extra period and almost decided the match on more than one occasion had it not been for the brilliance of goalkeeper Nobert and the right post standing next to the Netherlands when he hit Fernandez’s ball in the last moments.
Goalkeeper Martinez did not disappoint the hopes of Argentina and its fans in the penalty shootout, and gave his country the ticket to the semi-finals by saving two kicks out of five, while the “Tango” scored four strikes.
Argentina will meet in the next round, next Tuesday, December 13, with Croatia, who eliminated Brazil after beating them on penalties (4-2) in a match whose original and extra time ended in a draw with a goal for the same.