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Argentina back on track in World Cup roller coaster

Sports desk

Published: 19:53, 2 December 2022

Argentina back on track in World Cup roller coaster

It has been a roller coaster ride for Argentina at the World Cup in Qatar, but after veering off the rails early on, Lionel Messi's team are firmly back on track.

Despite losing their first match in one of the great World Cup upsets against Saudi Arabia, the two-time former winners still bounced back to win Group C and now face a favourable last 16 draw against outsiders Australia.

It was a dramatic turnaround for one of the pre-tournament favourites following the doom and gloom that met their opening result. "I think we're back to being the team we used to be" before the Saudi loss, said goalscorer Alexis Mac Allister following Wednesday's 2-0 win over Poland.

But had Argentina ever really stopped being themselves? Argentina came into the World Cup on a 36-match winning run and on the brink of equalling the unbeaten world record. But after a fast start against the Saudis in which Messi gave them a 10th minute lead from the penalty spot, their fortunes quickly unravelled.

Three times in the first half they had the ball in the net only to see an offside call go against them. Then two goals in five minutes at the start of the second half took their legs out from under them. Suddenly, Argentina were facing the very real prospect of crashing out in the group stages.

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