Lionel Messi has admitted it was a ‘physical’ and ‘difficult’ game for Argentina as they narrowly beat Australia to secure a place in the World Cup quarter-finals.
The Socceroos put up a spirited fight and frustrated their opponents for a while, but in the end Argentina’s quality shone through to seal the win.
Messi was at the heart of everything good the Albiceleste produced on the pitch, rolling back the years with a stunning performance and opening the scoring with a cool finish inside the penalty area.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Messi said: “We got complicated with the 2-1, because it was a controlled game and we could have even finished it.
“It was a difficult game, It was a difficult day. We had very little rest time, we were tired and we didn’t recover well. It was a very physical match.”
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Despite admitting he and his teammates were exhausted by the rigours of the World Cup, Messi insisted they would keep fighting until the bitter end.
“We want to be here because of what it feels like, what people transmit and what this is. We must continue united. We took one more step and now a difficult one is coming,” he said.
Argentina’s World Cup journey will now continue to the quarter-finals, where they will face off against the Netherlands in a repeat of the 1978 final and a more recent 2014 semi-final.
Louis van Gaal’s side saw off the challenge of the United States earlier on Saturday to become the first team to reach the last eight in this year’s World Cup.