LUSAIL, Qatar — Lionel Messi and Argentina survived one of the wildest games of the 2022 World Cup in a penalty shootout. Emi Martinez sprung to his right, then to his left, for majestic saves. Messi converted to give Argentina the shootout lead, and from there, unlike in regulation, the Argentines never looked back.
They blew a 2-0 advantage in the final 20 minutes of regulation. The Netherlands conjured a master set piece goal in the 11th minute of second-half stoppage time to send the game to extra time, and eventually penalties.
From the spot, Argentina began with perfection. It led 2-0 and 3-1. It threatened to blow yet another lead when Enzo Fernandez pulled his attempt wide. But Lautaro Martinez converted in the clutch. Emi Martinez, the heroic goalkeeper, fell to the ground in relief. Messi was lifted into the air by teammates.
Argentina is on to face Croatia in the semifinals, and two steps from Messi’s elusive glory.
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