Messi’s 35th minute strike in his 1000th career game gave Argentina a 1-0 lead before Julia Alvarez doubled the lead in the 57th minute
Australia's coach Graham Arnold. Pic/AFP
Australia coach Graham Arnold doffed his hat to Argentina’s skipper and star striker Lionel Messi after he scored a mesmerising goal in a 2-1 win that knocked the Aussies out of the World Cup in the Round of 16 at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Saturday night.
Messi’s 35th minute strike in his 1000th career game gave Argentina a 1-0 lead before Julia Alvarez doubled the lead in the 57th minute. Australia pulled one back through an Enzo Fernandez own-goal in the 77th minute but couldn’t find the equaliser and the Argentines held on for a famous win.
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“Messi is incredible… one of the greatest ever,” said Arnold, 59, going on to praise another Argentine legend. “I had the privilege of playing against Diegoe Maradona, and now I’m coaching against Messi. They’re both wonderful players, and Argentine will be proud to have players of their calibre,” added Arnold, whose contract has expired with the national team and is yet to decide about his future.
“My contract is up and I just want to go away, have a holiday and see what happens. I haven’t thought about the future. I’ll take a break and no doubt I’ll have some discussions with the organisation [Football Australia] later,” he added.
Reflecting on his team’s performance, Arnold said he was proud that the Socceroos had got this far—their best run at the World Cup finals since 2006. “I just told the boys that I couldn’t be more proud of their effort. We’re a bit disappointed though as we could’ve got something more out of it. Making the Last 16 wasn’t enough. I wanted more,” he concluded.