The 2022 Qatar World Cup entered the knockout stage with the first round of the round of 16. As of the end of the day, the two favorites, the Netherlands and Argentina, have successfully advanced to the quarterfinals.
The Netherlands comfortably beat the USA 3-1 in a well-deserved and entertaining victory.
On the other side, Argentina played against Australia. Before the game, both teams complained that there were only three days to prepare for the game, but this did not seem to affect the level of the game, especially Messi. The final 2-1 Messi led Argentina to defeat tenacious Australia.
Let EsballPH HaloWin Bet take you to relive the highlights of these two games.
3-1 Netherlands Beat USA in Well-Deserved Entertaining Victory
The Netherlands became the first team to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup with a well-deserved and entertaining victory over the United States.
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal had previously complained that his side's challenge in Qatar was not being taken seriously, but after this game, that could all change.
The star of their night was undoubtedly full-back Denzel Dumfries, whose two assists and an own goal proved why so many of Europe's top clubs were interested in signing him.
However, the Americans got their first big chance when Christian Pulisic broke through the middle, only to be blocked by the legs of Dutch goalkeeper Andres Nopert. The Dutchman made them pay quickly, and when Dumfries' pass was over, Dumfries passed the ball to Memphis Depay for a finish.
This is bad news for Americans in two ways. They have never been behind in a World Cup game, with the Netherlands winning every game in the final where they scored first, going back to 1978 and Argentina.
The USA had their chances at the other end, but too often, the final move let them down, and on the stroke of half-time, found themselves two goals down with an almost identical move, this time Daley Blind arriving in the box late to meet another cross from Dumfries.
Chances came and went at both ends in the second half, before with 16 minutes left, the US halved the deficit in somewhat fortunate fashion. Pulisic was given space on the right side of the box and his cross was met by Haji Wright, who deflected the ball and it looped over the goalkeeper and the despairing lunge of a defender on the line.
Just as the US dreamed of an equaliser and perhaps extra time and penalties, the Dutch killed them off. This time Blind turned provider, crossing from the left, and Dumfries found himself unmarked and calmly volleyed home.
In the end it was a question of a difference of quality between the two teams. The US had not lacked for effort and spirit, but, apart from Pulisic, did not have anybody capable of offering a consistent threat.
This is not one of the classic Dutch teams of yesteryear, but they are organised under van Gaal and do not appear to suffer from the disharmony that has undermined so many squads in the past.
2-1 Messi led Argentina to defeat tenacious Australia
Both teams had complained before the game about the fact that they only had three days to prepare for the match, but it did not appear to affect the standard, especially of Lionel Messi who was back to his best, and was playing in his 1000th match for club and country.
The Australians did well for much of the first half, keeping a high level and ensuring that everything was played in front of them. It looked as if they would get to half-time intact, but then Messi picked up the ball on the right, and then when the ball was played back to him passed it into the net from 18 yards.
The second Argentine goal was entirely the fault of the Australian defence. Goalkeeper Matt Ryan gathered the ball and threw it out quickly, looking to mount a counter-attack, only for the ball to be played back to him. Ryan lost control, and the ball fell to Julian Alvárez, who swivelled and, although he did make clean contact with the ball, still managed to scuff his shot into the net.
For the next 20 minutes, Argentina put on a show with Messi at the heart of it, beating half the opposing team with one dribble before he was finally robbed.
Australia had hardly mounted an attack worthy of the name, but they found a way back into the match via an unexpected route.
Craig Goodwin took a speculative shot from 25 yards which was headed well wide of the goal only for it to hit Enzo Fernêndez en route and deflect into the bottom corner.
That gave the underdogs renewed hope and Aziz Behich went on a jinking run, before Lisandro Martínez threw himself at the ball, to deny the equaliser.
Messi remained the inspiration for Argentina and set up Lautaro Martínez for what should have been a simple finish, only for the Inter Milan striker to miscue it wide.
By that stage of the match, Argentina were beginning to live on their nerves, and Australia came preciously close to forcing extra time when teenage substitute Garang Kuol (the youngest player to appear in the knock-out stages of the World Cup since Pelé in 1958) squirmed free only for Emi Martínez in the Argentine goal to block his shot with his left arm.
He was embraced by team-mates whilst still lying on the ground, who knew how important the save was for their side.
Argentina deserved to win, but they will reflect that they had made life harder for themselves than needed. They will, though, take encouragement from the form of Messi, and, if he can play like this again in the tournament, they could yet end up with the World Cup in their hands.
Australia can return home with a good deal of pride, having gone further than many people would have expected and with wins over Tunisia and Denmark to look back on with satisfaction.
FIFA Prediction: Netherlands vs Argentina
The Netherlands and Argentina will now meet in the quarter-finals on Friday in a game that has featured some classic clashes at previous World Cups.
The World Football official website pointed out that the Netherlands and Argentina are one of the classic battle combinations on the World Cup stage. The two teams have met five times in the World Cup. With this goal, the Argentine team defeated the Argentine team 4-0 in the group stage. Four years later, the two teams met again in the World Football Championship. After the play-offs, the host Argentina won the Gold Cup 3-1.
In the 1998 World Cup, the Netherlands relied on Bergkamp's goal at the end of the regular season to beat Argentina 2-1. In the 2006 World Cup, the two teams drew 0-0 in the group stage. Eight years later in the World Cup, the two teams met in the semi-finals. After the regular season and the playoffs, it was a 0-0 stalemate. In the end, after a PK match, Argentina defeated the Netherlands 4-2.
The two sides will meet again at the World Cup in Qatar. This may be the last time Argentina's 35-year-old star Messi played against the Netherlands with the team, in 2006 and 2014 respectively, and he scored a total of 3 goals this year. He looks fine. He has 38 goals in his last 39 caps for the national team but is yet to score against the Netherlands in his career.
In the absence of Argentina's top 16 main winger Di Maria, Australia 2-1 Lectra's ticket to advance, but the overall offensive firepower is really poor. Whether Angell can return to the team in this game is crucial to whether the Netherlands can beat Argentina.
Judging from the group stage so far, the overall lineup of the Netherlands is relatively stable compared to Argentina. The Netherlands has a better chance of winning this battle, but the presence of Messi is still a major obstacle for the Netherlands to win.
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