Argentina beat Australia 2-1 in the round of 16 of the Fifa World Cup at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium to set up a quarterfinal clash with the Netherlands.
A brilliant goal from Lionel Messi in the 35th minute was the difference between the two sides in a tight first half. But Argentina scored the second goal early in the second half when Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez pounced on a defensive lapse from Australia to put the two-time world champions 2-0 up in the 57th minute.
Argentina began playing with a lot more freedom after the second half with Messi, who was playing the 1000th match of his career, at the center of their each attacking move.
The tough-tackling Australians gave Argentina a good fight until a lapse of concentration from Matt Ryan, their goalkeeper, allowed Argentina to tighten their grip in the contest.
But Australia fought back when a long-range effort from Craig Goodwin in the 77th minute was deflected into the goal by Enzo Fernandez.
Australia looked more confident on the ball following the goal and kept the pressure on Argentina. The game opened up nicely deep into the second half and a magical run from Messi found substitute Lautaro Martinez in the box, but the Inter Milan striker missed the target completely, sending a wayward right-footer.
The South Americans will now take on the Netherlands, which beat the USA 3-1 in the first round of 16 games, in the quarterfinal on Friday. The goal from Messi, playing in the 1,000 matches of his career, put Argentina on course for a clash with the Netherlands.