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Argentina vs Mexico: Lionel Messi & Enzo Fernandez Score in Crucial Win

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Argentina Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi produced a moment of trademark magic to help keep Argentina’s World Cup hopes alive with victory in a tense encounter against Mexico.

In a cauldron of noise at Lusail Stadium, Messi and Argentina knew defeat would end their hopes of reaching the last 16 after only two games following the stunning loss to Saudi Arabia in their opener.

The tension was mounting as Mexico frustrated Messi in an attritional game, especially in a first half littered with fouls and stoppages that never allowed Argentina to gain any momentum.

Messi changed all that after 64 minutes when he took one touch to control a pass with his left foot before drilling an unerring finish past Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

The masses of Argentina supporters in a crowd of 88,966 went wild in celebration and relief as their World Cup campaign got back on track.

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Enzo Fernandez added a superb second with a curling shot into the top corner three minutes from time but it was Messi who made the breakthrough and the difference.

Victory in a tough final Group C game against Poland will send them into the knockout phase.

Messi delivers the magic once again

Messi cut a frustrated figure for the first 45 minutes here, pushed to the margins as this crucial game descended into a bitty affair spoiled by fouls, with little of quality on show.

It was when the game settled down, the stoppages reduced and a football match broke out that Messi was finally able to exert his influence, wandering far and wide on the vast expanse of Lusail Stadium before finally making the decisive contribution.

In an ear-splitting atmosphere, Messi turned up the volume even more with that breakthrough goal that finally broke Mexico down and reignited Argentina’s World Cup.

Messi produced two perfect touches with that wand of a left foot, one to control and one to arrow a finish beyond Ochoa’s outstretched left hand.

It was what all of Argentina hoped for and demanded from their great talisman and, as so often before for club and country, the 35-year-old produced when they needed him most.

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This highly-touted side had faced real jeopardy. Argentina knew defeat would finish them here in Qatar. Messi knew defeat would end his dream of lifting the World Cup, the major honour missing from his glittering and extensive honours list.

He followed another superstar in Kylian Mbappe, whose two goals against Denmark put France into the last 16, and he showed here he is determined not to be outshone by the other members of his elite group.

Mexico, backed by their own massed ranks of fans, were in no mood to step aside and it took that big moment to unlock them, bowing to Messi as so many others have done before.

There is still work to do for Argentina when they face Group C leaders Poland, who boast a sporting icon of their own in striker Robert Lewandowski, but the celebrations at the final whistle gave the impression that a team hotly tipped to lift the World Cup at this same Lusail Stadium believe their show is now on the road thanks to their captain and resident genius.

Source: BBC Sports

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Mourinho Compares Victor Osimhen to one of the African legend, Didier Drogba

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Victor Osimhen

AS Roma manager, Jose Mourinho, has compared Super Eagles of Nigeria and Napoli of Italy hitman, Victor Osimhen, to Chelsea and Ivory Coast legend, Didier Drogba.

NEWSBREAK reports that the  Nigerian striker netted a world-class goal as his side, Napoli, marched towards the Serie A title on Sunday. Osimhen’s classic goal came against Mourinho’s Roma at the Diego Maradona stadium where Napoli won 2-1.

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Speaking after the match, Mourinho, a former Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid manager, said: “He (Osimhen) is of the same level as Drogba, but Didier didn’t dive.

“If Victor changes, then OK. I’d buy him if I was at a club with a lot of money. However, if he does go to England one day, he needs to change, because in Italy they put up with this sort of behaviour, whereas in the Premier League, they’d come down hard on him.”

He added: “I told him that he scored a wonderful goal and needs to stop diving so much. His goal was fantastic, he did the same thing when we met earlier this season, so he’s a fantastic player. But he mustn’t dive.”

Osimhen, 24, is currently the highest goal scorer in the Italian league Serie A with 14 goals scored in 16 matches.

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Kelechi Iheanacho’s record goal helps Leicester qualify for last 16 FA Cup

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Leicester city needed the goal from Nigerian footballer Kelechi Iheanacho to avoid a shock elimination from the FA Cup with a 1-0 win at Walsall on Saturday.

The Nigerian has scored more goals in the competition than any other player since making his debut in 2016.

Iheanacho’s 17th goal in 23 FA Cup appearances had some fortune as his strike from the edge of the box took a deflection for the only goal 23 minutes from time.

Leicester, Leeds and Man United join Manchester City as the first four sides to book their place in the last 16 of the competition.

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French footballer gets 30-year ban for punching referee

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An amateur footballer in France, described as a “fanatic”, was on Friday banned from playing for 30 years for punching a referee.

“The penalty is appropriate. These fanatics must not be able to set foot on a football pitch again. They have no place there,” said Benoit Laine, president of the Loiret football district in central France.

The 25-year-old player, who was not named by officials, was angry at being sent off while featuring for Entente Sportive Gatinaise in a local cup game on January 8.

He punched the referee so hard that the official was signed off work for two days.

The team was also kicked out of the tournament for the next two seasons.

AFP

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