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Magical Messi keeps Arg’s hopes alive in must-see encounter

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The result restored order for the Argentines in Group C after their 2-1 opener against Saudi Arabia. Argentina can guarantee progress with a win over Poland in their last Group C game on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi scored a goal in the 64th minute and Enzo Fernandez added another late in the game to give Argentina a 2-0 win over Mexico in their World Cup Group C match on Saturday November 26 and rekindle their tournament hopes.

Messi, who equaled Diego Maradona’s Argentine record of 21 World Cup appearances, was nowhere to be found for more than an hour before collecting a pass from Angel Di Maria, finding just enough space and fumbling with his left foot 20 meters away.

Substitute Fernandez secured the three points with a superb shot into the top corner in the 87th minute.

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The result restored order for the Argentines in Group C after their 2-1 opener against Saudi Arabia.

Argentina, with three points, can secure progress with a victory over Poland, who lead with four points, in their final game on Wednesday.

Mexico, who have now lost all four World Cup clashes with Argentina, have one point and need to beat Saudi Arabia, from three, to have any chance of continuing their streak of reaching the last 16 in of the last seven World Cups, but even that might not be enough.

With the prospect of an Argentine exit, tensions were high on and off the ball in a scrappy first half, but with both sets of supporters creating an electric atmosphere in the stadium.

The opening period fell short of the game’s billing, with neither side wanting to commit too many forwards and apart from a ninth-minute free kick from Mexico’s Luis Chavez that went over the goal mouth, there were few chances.

Mexico’s high pressure play snuffed out most of their opponents’ attacks and Argentine talisman Messi, struggled to find space to maneuver in a congested midfield.

Apart from an effort from Lautaro Martinez which was wide of the mark and another from Messi, Argentina were toothless up front.

But in a blow to Mexico, skipper Andres Guardado, a veteran of five World Cups who until then had been a dominant presence in midfield, had to be withdrawn injured in the 42nd.

The Mexicans still got two more chances before the break. First Alexis Vega curled a free kick over the wall for goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to save and a few minutes later he fired a shot over the bar.

The South Americans looked more determined after the break but had no real chance before their 35-year-old captain bailed them out with his second goal of the tournament.

The stadium was once again erupted with joy as Fernandez’s late strike sealed Argentina’s first win of the tournament and revived Messi’s hopes of a first-ever World Cup title.

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