Lionel Messi turned up the style in Argentina's 2 - 1 defeat of Australia in their round of 16 fixture in the ongoing 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The game was the 1,000th of the mercurial Argentine's professional career and he marked it with a great goal as well as a man of the match performance against the Socceroos in front of a 45,032 crowd at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Saturday night.
Argentina's qualification was never in doubt and by extension, Messi's impact on the game. However, it took a moment of magic from him in the 35th minute to bring the game alive. After a defensive clearance from his freekick just moments before, Argentina won the second ball and passed it around. The ball found its way to Messi who, after one touch, placed a beautiful low shot into the bottom left corner past Matthew Ryan in the Australia goal.
He created a few chances in the game but it took a mistake from Ryan to help the Albiceleste bag their second of the night, thanks to quick thinking from Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez.
Argentina will face the Netherlands in their quarter final tie on Friday for what will prove to be their toughest test of the tournament yet. They have now shaken off the loss to Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the tournament and are finding their rhythm again.
Messi's goal put him within one of catching up to Gabriel Batistuta's record of the most World Cup goals scored by an Argentina player, a few days after he caught up to Diego Maradona's World Cup goals record.
It also placed him one ahead of his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo in World Cup goals to further stoke the media debate about which player is the best of their generation.
Messi is now tied on three goals with England's Marcus Rashford, Netherlands' Cody Gakpo, Ecuador's Enner Valencia, Spain's Alvaro Morata and France's Kylian Mbappe for the World Cup golden boot. Messi, who had never scored a World Cup knockout goal before the Australia game, thanked the fans for their support, claiming they are his fuel for the ongoing tournament.
"These are incredible feelings and we love to share these moments with them," Messi said. "We know they made a lot of effort to be here and we also remember those who are in Argentina.
"This union we have is something very nice and that is what the national team has to be. We wanted to get together again with our people because it is incredible how they live it and how they transmit us that joy. We thank them for that."