the Argentinian fans call him Messi El Redentor – Messi The Redeemer.Out on the streets of Copacabana beach,
He hath saved them again.
In the 91st minute on Saturday, Lionel Messi scored one of the more remarkable and heart-stopping goals in recent World Cup history, lifting Argentina to another narrow win over a lesser team.
With about three minutes of extra time remaining in a scoreless tie with Iran, Messi hooked a strike around a gaggle of Iran defenders and just inside the left post, finding a sliver of net where there seemed to be none. The last-gasp goal turned a catastrophe of a day for the Argentinians into a 1-0 victory and another reason to celebrate on hated rival Brazil’s home turf.
Coming into this tournament, there was debate in Argentina and around the world if Messi could ever step out of the shadow of the great Diego Maradona. After two matches, the 26 year-old’s legend continues to grow.
That fabled left foot delivered the game-winning goal for Argentina in the opening match against Bosnia, and then Messi somehow outdid himself on Saturday at Belo Horizonte with a goal that will surely be replayed endlessly in Buenos Aires. He found the ball just outside the box, feinted to his left, and then struck. Then he spun and lifted his arms wide as the partisan crowd serenaded him and his teammates surrounded him.
To say Messi has lifted his team in this tournament is to understate the obvious. Argentina has looked somewhat sluggish in its first two appearances, playing against overmatched teams with little World Cup experience. The blue and white have been unable to create much offense through midfield, and they have relied on goalkeeper Sergio Romero to bail them out on multiple occasions. They do not look like a favorite to win this.
Messi, however, is one of those rare performers who can turn a few inches of grass into instant magic. The great ones only need a split-second. Messi turned that split-second into a memory Argentines will cherish for a lifetime.