Lionel Messi incredible, but Emi Martinez the true hero

Lionel Messi incredible, but Emi Martinez the true hero

Emi Martinez saved two penalties as Argentina reached the semi-finals (Getty Images)

Emi Martinez saved two penalties as Argentina reached the semi-finals (Getty Images)

Argentina are through to the semi-finals of the World Cup and will face Croatia after beating the Netherlands on penalties.

In an enthralling game, Argentina had looked set to go through in normal time as they led 2-0 with seven minutes remaining.

Nahuel Molina and Lionel Messi had found the net to put them in control, but the Dutch hit back thanks to two late goals from Wout Weghorst.

Neither team came from the net in extra time and thus the match went to penalties. Emi Martinez was the hero for Argentina, saving two penalties as they set up a showdown with Croatia on Tuesday.

Simon Collings was at the Lusail Stadium to watch Argentina in action…

Emi Martinez 8

For almost 80 minutes he had nothing to do as the Argentina defense was solid. He then conceded two goals, but redeemed himself with a penalty shootout. Saved two spot kicks.

Cristian Romero 7

Looked solid all night, usually throwing himself into tackles and trying to assert his dominance. The only mistake was a stupid yellow card for handball. Argentina did not concede until he stepped down.

Nicolas Otamendi 5

Had a composed performance in the middle of Argentina’s three but lost his way late on. Gave away an unnecessary free kick for the Dutch equaliser.

Lisandro Martinez 6

Seemed to enjoy the physical game as the Netherlands tried to swing many crosses into the box. Things were going well, until Weghorst beat him to a header to score.

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Nahuel Molina 8

Impressed at right wing-back, where he got forward as much as he could to support Argentina’s attack. Opened the scoring and took the goal very well.

Rodrigo De Paul 6

As always he was diligent and got around but lacked quality in the final third. Missed a good chance in the first half and one in the second as well.

Enzo Fernandez 7

He has made a huge difference to this Argentina team since being brought into the side. Sat in front of the defense and broke up play, while ticking things off in possession as well. Hit the post in extra time.

Alexis McAllister 6

Solid in possession and held the ball very well for most of the night. But blew a good chance when he overstepped a pass that would have put De Paul on target.

Marcos Acuna 8

Was up against the physical and fast Denzel Dumfries, but took the upper hand both offensively and defensively. Won the penalty for Argentina when Dumfries fouled him.

Lionel Messi 9 | Star player

Unbelievable: Messi leads this Argentina team (Getty Images)

Unbelievable: Messi leads this Argentina team (Getty Images)

Another incredible performance from the Argentina captain. The team set up their goal with a ridiculous assist and were comfortably the best player on the pitch. Got a penalty to secure the win.

Julian Alvarez 6

After impressing so far at this World Cup, the Manchester City striker had a rather quiet game. Had no clear chances. But worked hard without the ball.


Leandro Paredes (De Paul 66′) 5

Brought on to freshen up the Argentine midfield and almost got sent off. Hacked down Nathan Ake and hit the ball on the Dutch bench.

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Nicolas Tagliafico (Acuna 78′) 6

Probably picked off by subs, but it’s nothing to shout about.

German Pezzella (Romero 78′) 5

On at the heart of the defence, but brought chaos instead of calm.

Lautaro Martinez (Alvarez 82′) 7

Came on and was sharp, going close in extra periods on two occasions.

Gonzalo Montiel (Molina 115′) N/A

Angel Di Maria (Martinez 112′) N/A

Unused substitutes: Armani, Rulli, Foyth, Palacios, Correa, Almada, Gomez, Rodriguez, Dybala.

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