The 35-year-old contributed to both of La Albiceleste’s two goals in normal time, firstly producing an exquisite assist for Nahuel Molina before scoring from the penalty spot in the 73rd minute.
The Netherlands rarely threatened Argentina’s backline, but they fought back late on to restore parity and send the fiery contest into extra time courtesy of two goals from substitute Wout Weghorst, including a dramatic 101st-minute equaliser.
The Oranje’s remarkable comeback was ultimately in vain, though, as Argentina prevailed 4-3 on penalties to set up a semi-final clash with Croatia who stunned Brazil to win 4-2 in their own shootout following a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes.
Messi scored the first of Argentina’s spot kicks, but his strike in normal time has seen him draw level with Gabriel Batistuta as the nation’s joint-record scorer at the World Cup with 10 goals.
The Paris Saint-Germain attacker’s assist, meanwhile, was his fifth in the World Cup knockout rounds which is more than any other player in the competition’s history since records began in 1996, surpassing Brazil icon Pele with four.
Messi has certainly put his stamp on this year’s tournament in Qatar, scoring four goals and providing two assists in five matches, and his dream of lifting the World Cup for the first time is still alive.
Argentina’s No.10 is regarded by many as the greatest player of all time, but Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal highlighted what he believed to be a flaw in the attacker’s game in the build-up to Friday’s quarter-final, while also claiming that the Dutch have an advantage in penalty shootouts.
Messi was seen exchanging words with Van Gaal on the touchline after the game and has since hit back at the 71-year-old, criticising his ‘long-ball’ tactics.
Scaloni, meanwhile, believes the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has proven why he stands clear as the best player to have graced the beautiful game.
“Today Leo (Messi) showed that he is the best of all time,” Scaloni told reporters after the win over the Netherlands.
The 44-year-old boss added: “This team has the spirit to be able to face the situation at all times. From my point of view, we didn’t deserve to go to penalties, but even so the team continued to show its face.
Argentina will now have four days of rest, recuperation and preparation before facing Croatia in the last four at Lusail Stadium next Tuesday.
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