Argentina advanced to the semi-finals of the Olympic Football Tournament in China on Saturday, after beating the Netherlands 2-1 after extra time in Shanghai. Barcelona star Lionel Messi was the key man for an Argentine side who found it hard, at times, to get out of first gear, but who still created more good chances than their opponents.
Messi opened the scoring with a surging run past two opponents plus the goalkeeper, followed by a good finish after charging down a defensive clearance in the 14th minute, and the Dutch equalised ten minutes before half time through Otman Bakkal after a driven shot from a free kick spooned high into the box. In the second half Argentina continued to press, but goalkeeper Oscar Ustari had to be taken off injured after pulling up short whilst chasing a ball which had gone out of play for a goal kick. Sergio Romero replaced him and had little to do as the Netherlands struggled to get in any shots from closer than about 25 yards.
On the very stroke of half time in extra time, Messi turned it on again, this time turning provider as, from a deep central position behind the strikers, he fed a perfectly weighted through ball into the left channel for Angel Di María to run onto. The Benfica man took it in his stride and drove it low under the opposing goalkeeper for the decisive goal. In the semi-final, Argentina will face Brazil.
At the time of writing, only Messi’s and Bakkal’s goals are online, but presumably the Di María winner will follow shortly on this post on Mighty Football.