- Playing at his fifth World Cup
- Hoping to make semi-final
- Delivered moment of typical quality
WHAT HAPPENED? The 35-year-old darted forward with characteristic intent before sliding a defence-splitting through-ball for teammate Nahuel Molina who fired Argentina into the lead against their Dutch opposition. That now means that Messi has five assists spread across all of his World Cup knockout game appearances. This is more than any other player at that stage of the tournament (since 1966, when Opta started keeping records) taking him above Pele who had four.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Messi had three goals in Qatar coming into the match. However, his penalty against the Netherlands means that he now has four at the tournament. This means he has ten across all the World Cups he has played in, which puts him level with Gabriel Batistuta – who had previously been out on his own with the most in an Argentina shirt.
WHAT NEXT FOR MESSI? He can have all the assists in the world but they will surely mean nothing to Messi if he ends his career without that fabled World Cup triumph.