Xtra Time Web Desk: Two-times former World Champions Argentina defeated Netherlands 2-2 (4-3) to enter the semi-final of FIFA World Cup 2022 at Lusail Iconic Stadium on Friday night. The Albiceleste looked to have everything under control after Lionel Messi set up the opening goal and scored a second, only for the Netherlands super sub Wout Weghorst to score twice late and level the scores.
Emiliano Martinez made two crucial saves in the tie-breaker to take Argentina into the semi-final where they will face Croatia on Tuesday.
Albiceleste took the lead in the 35th minute after an inspirational move from Messi. Despite several Netherlands marking him, he somehow managed to dribble past them and essayed a perfect pass for Nahuel Molina who made no mistake to score past Andries Noppert.
Argentina extended the lead in the 73rd minute from a penalty converted by the talisman. Marcus Acuna was fouled inside the box by Denzel Dumfries and referee did not give it a second thought to award a penalty.
As the match was poised for a comfortable 2-0 win for Argentina, substitute Wout Weghorst scored twice (83’ & 90+10’) in the span of 18 minutes. He got across his marker and sent a glancing header past the diving Emiliano Martinez.
Teun Koopmeiners stepped up to shoot a free kick, but instead rolled a low pass into the penalty area that found the feet of Weghorst. The big man turned and fired a low shot past Martinez to send the match into extra-time.
Neither side could find a winner, though Argentina came close on several occasions late on, including an Enzo Fernandez strike coming off the post with seconds to spare.
In the end a spot in the semi-finals was decided from the spot, with Emiliano Martinez giving Argentina an early advantage after saves on Virgil van Dijk and Berghuis. Enzo
Fernandez fired wide in the fourth round of kicks, giving the Oranje a glimmer of hope.
However, after Luuk de Jong scored his effort, Lautaro Martinez stepped up and sent Noppert the wrong way to fire the Albiceleste into Tuesday’s semi-final against Croatia.