Argentina wins World Cup quarterfinal shootout over Netherlands.

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By Creative Media News

It was heated, acrimonious, and devolved into complete chaos, making it a World Cup knockout match for the ages. As a result of Louis van Gaal’s substitutions, Argentina threw away a two-goal advantage late in second-half stoppage time, resulting in a descent into the pits of hell.

However, after a tense stretch of extra time, Argentina prevailed in a ridiculous match, with Lautaro Martnez converting the deciding penalty kick in a penalty shootout victory.

Lionel Messi’s mesmerizing first-half assist and nonchalant second-half penalty for his 10th World Cup goal, equaling Gabriel Batistuta’s record for Argentina, became mere footnotes by the end of the game.

Argentina wins world cup quarterfinal shootout over netherlands.
Argentina wins world cup quarterfinal shootout over netherlands.

Argentina has reached five World Cup semifinals since 1990, with Tuesday’s match against Croatia being their second since a bizarre victory. The appearance of Wout Weghorst, a 6ft 6 striker who joined Besiktas on loan from Burnley in the summer, with 78 minutes remaining indisputably altered the outcome of the match.

Five minutes later, he converted Steven Berghuis’s cross with a header, and then, with seconds remaining in the 10 minutes of second-half stoppage time, two of Argentina’s substitutes, German Pezzella and Leandro Paredes, surrounded Wout Weghorst as the three contested an aerial ball on the edge of the box.

Teun Koopmeiners, another late substitute, aimed to shoot from the subsequent free-kick, but the ball was deflected into the path of Weghorst, who turned his defender and placed the ball into the far corner, replicating a goal Weghorst scored two years ago for Wolfsburg.

Such was the acclaim from the spectators that Argentina’s players did not wish to leave the field. On a night that turned out to be genuinely remarkable, their supporters did not want to leave a venue they had effectively taken over.

Argentina edge netherlands 1
Argentina wins world cup quarterfinal shootout over netherlands.

This was the cruelest ending to what is likely to be Van Gaal’s last game as a manager. Van Gaal, who won new admirers at this tournament at the age of 71 with his unmistakable personality – such as kissing his players to make a point or going viral after dancing his way through the hotel lobby – this was likely his last game as a manager.

He huddled his team as virtually the entire stadium — it would be an understatement to suggest that Argentina’s fans outnumbered their opponents – celebrated. The Argentine players, meanwhile, also created a circle, although theirs was far more festive.

The initial thirty minutes of a competitive game were characterized by reticence. However, as the game progressed, the players’ demeanor deteriorated until it reached a state of total anarchy.

Not for the first time, Antonio Mateu Lahoz, the Spanish referee, was assaulted as he blew his whistle after 100 minutes and 30 seconds as a riot broke out. Edgar Davids, a current member of Van Gaal’s coaching staff, succeeded in separating the orange shirts from the sky blue and white striped shirts.

One yellow card was issued to Weghorst while he was an unused substitute, while another was issued to former central defender Walter Samuel, an assistant to manager Lionel Scaloni and also a former Argentina defender.

Both the goalie for Argentina, Emiliano Martnez, who stopped two penalty kicks, and the substitute, Lautaro Martnez, could be considered heroes. Enzo Fernández was also impressive, despite missing in the penalty shootout.

He struck the post with a spectacular long-range shot mere seconds before penalties were confirmed. And, of course, there is Messi, whose heavenly artistry set up Nahuel Molina for a beautiful 35th-minute opener that felt light years ago when Argentina’s players bounced before the hoardings in front of the lower bank of fans who were still intent on making noise until they were eventually escorted to the exits at 1:50 a.m.

As Messi dashed from midfield to embrace both Lautaro and Emiliano Martnez, six of his teammates were howling at the downed Netherlands players; Nicolas Otamendi turned towards them and cupped his ears.

Leandro Paredes, Gonzalo Montiel, and Alexis Mac Allister, whom all scored in the shootout, appeared more interested in rubbing in the anguish of losing than in enjoying the elation and, no doubt, relief of triumph. Weghorst, having scored his penalty and being unable to do anything else to achieve victory, collapsed to the ground and covered his face.

Virgil van Dijk gazed to the heavens when his penalty kick, the first of the shootout, was saved. Denzel Dumfries drew his orange shorts closer to his hips as he consoled Berghuis, whose penalty was saved by a magnificent two-handed save by Martnez.

Despite the subsequent chaos, Messi’s exquisite pass to Molina is worth recalling. The 35-year-old proceeded on one of his shimmying runs, evading Marten de Roon and then Nathan Aké.

There appeared to be no imminent risk. Messi, a stealthy assassin with a superbly feathery touch, is however at his subtlest during this time. When he spotted Molina in his peripheral vision, he took a few more steps and veered from right to left, continuing his diagonal run across the field.

After making the most cursory of checks out of the corner of his eye, he pushed a wonderfully weighted pass through to the Atlético Madrid defender while functioning as a right wing-back following Scaloni’s formation change.

Molina received the ball in motion, controlling it with his left foot before toe-poking it past the Netherlands goalkeeper Andries Noppert with his right. Every player on the field raced to Messi to rejoice, as they had yet another moment to treasure.

At the time, Argentina was unaware of the severity of its future suffering. Before Weghorst silenced a partisan crowd, Berghuis whistled a shot against the side net. Then, in overtime, both sides went through the wringer.

Van Dijk instinctively blocked Lautaro Martnez’s shot with the top of his chest, while Fernández struck the post. Nevertheless, judging by the enormous celebrations at the conclusion — even those crass ones — the suffering was all worthwhile.

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