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Five of the Best | Lionel Messi World Cup goals

The mercurial Lionel Messi has almost singlehandedly kept Argentina's World Cup campaign alive at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Messi, 35, has been involved in all three of his country's goals so far in the tournament.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner scored from the penalty spot in Argentina's shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their first Group C fixture and scored a stunning strike from distance before providing an assist for Enzo Fernandez in Argeinta's crucial 2-0 win over Mexico this weekend.

Victory over Mexico keeps pre-tournament favourites Argentina in contention to reach the knockout stages, with the South American side needing at least a draw against Poland in their final group match.

Messi's goal was his eighth in 21 overall appearances at the World Cup, equalling his compatriot Diego Maradona's record.

Interestingly, all eight of the PSG star's goals across five World Cups have come in the group stages.

In this article, we revisit five of his best strikes at the tournament.


#5: vs Bosnia and Herzegovina (2014)

Messi made an immediate impact at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which quite possibly remains his finest individual World Cup campaign.

Having recorded his first World Cup goal with a tidy finish against Serbia and Montenegro in 2006, Messi would add four more goals to his tally in 2014, having only scored once in his first eight World Cup appearances.

Argentina faced Bosnia and Herzegovina in their opening Group F clash in Rio de Janeiro, with the South Americans taking the lead in the third minute after Sead Kolasinac turned Messi's free-kick from out wide into his own net at the Maracana.

Messi doubled La Selección's lead in the 65th minute with a sublime solo goal.

Collecting the ball near the halfway line, Messi played a clever one-two with Gonzalo Higuain. on the edge of the box. Receiving the return pass, Messi dribbled along the outside of the box, jinking onto his left foot and curling an excellent low finish into the net via the inside of the post.

It was a vintage Messi goal, one we've seen time and time again at both club and international level, and it proved to be the winner after Vedad Ibisevic pulled one back for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 85th minute.

At the time, Messi's strike took his international tally to 37 goals in 87 matches, and the 2014 tournament remains the closest he has come to winning the ever-elusive World Cup.


#4: vs Nigeira (2014)

Argentina prevailed 3-2 in a dramatic five-goal thriller against Nigeria to claim top spot in Group F in their final group match at the 2014 tournament.

Victory saw Argentina top the group on nine points, with Nigeria finishing second to progress to the knockout stages.

Messi, who'd scored three goals in his opening two Group F matches, starred once again.

He smashed in an unstoppable rebound in the third minute after Angel Di Maria's shot came back off the post; finding the the roof of the net from 10 yards with a powerful left-footed half-volley.

Nigeria drew level 80 seconds later through the impressive Ahmed Musa, who cut in from the left and curled a fantastic strike into the far corner from just inside the area.

Messi, who had drawn a fine save from Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama with a free kick earlier in the half, stood over another free in first half stoppage time, 30 yards from goal and slightly to the right of the opposition's goal.

The Argentinian curled in a wonderful free kick into the top corner past a stunned Enyeama, much to the delight of the Argentina supporters in Brazil.

Musa slotted a fine finish past Sergio Romero to draw Nigeria level early in the second half, before a dramatic late winner from Marcos Rojo saw Argentina claim all three points in second half stoppage time.

It remains the only World Cup match in which Messi has scored more than one goal.

Argentina would go all the way to the final in Brazil, suffering a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat to Germany due to Mario Gotze's goal.


#3: vs Nigeria (2018)

Three of Messi's eight World Cup goals have been recorded against Nigeria.

After notching a brace against the African nation in 2014, Messi scored a vital goal for Argentina against the same opposition four years later in Group D in Russia.

Argentina made a hugely disappointing start to the tournament (sound familiar?), which saw Messi miss a penalty in a 1-1 draw against Iceland in the opening match, and Croatia thump the South American nation 3-0 in Argentina's second group game.

Argetina's shocking start meant they would crash out of the tournament unless they beat Nigeria in their final Group D clash in St Petersburg.

Messi, who had endured a difficult start to the tournament, produced another iconic goal in the 14th minute.

Ever Banega floated a delightful lofted through ball over the top to find Messi's clever run in behind.

The then Barcelona attacker produced a beautiful piece of skill to control the ball on the run, cushioning the ball on his thigh before quickly shifting it on to his left foot away from the covering defender Kenneth Omeruo.

Messi kept his composure to slot a clever finish past Nigeria shot-stopper Francis Uzoho.

Victor Moses drew Nigeria level in the second half from the penalty spot, before another late winner from Rojo booked Argentina's place in the knockout stages.

Argentina would go on to lose a thrilling 4-2 classic against eventual tournament winners France in the last 16 in Kazan.


#2: vs Iran (2014)

Stoppage time.

The game locked in a scoreless draw.

One last chance.

Is there a player in history you'd rather have receive the ball five yards outside the opposition's box?

Step forward Messi.

The diminutive attacker picked up the ball 25 yards from goal, shifted onto his unrivalled left foot and curled a trademark finish into the far top corner.

Messi's 91st-minute winner against Iran earned La Selección an important victory in their second Group F encounter, paving the way for them to top the group with three wins from three.

After a dull encounter against a resilient Iran side, it took a moment of Messi magic to make the difference.

As mentioned above, Argentina would go on to lose the final to Germany.


#1: vs Mexico (2022)

Accuse us of recency bias, but Messi's most recent strike against Mexico could prove to be the most important goal the 35-year-old has scored at the tournament to date.

Playing in what will surely be his last World Cup, Messi produced a moment of magic from nowhere to keep Argentina's fading hopes alive at this year's tournament in Qatar.

Following Argentina's shocking 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening match, Lionel Scaloni's side needed a response against Mexico if they were to avoid a humiliating early exit from Group C.

Argentina, who entered this year's competition in imperious form and in the midst of an impressive unbeaten run, looked sluggish and uninspired once again in the first half against Mexico. It remained scoreless after a dour first half, before Messi broke the deadlock with a brilliant finish.

In the 65th minute, Di Maria picked out his teammate on the edge of the box.

Messi trapped the ball with one touch and unleashed a powerful low drive which flew into the bottom corner past Guillermo Ochoa to give Argentina the lead, sparking wild celebrations among the Argentina fans in attendance.

Messi then turned provider to set up Fernandez, who curled a spectacular finish past Ochoa to secure victory with three minutes remaining.

"Today another World Cup starts for Argentina," Messi said after the game.

"I tell people the same thing, that they continue to believe."

Argentina take on Poland in their final Group C match. Poland are currently top of the group on four points, a point ahead of Argentina and Saudi Arabia, with Mexico collecting just one point from their opening two matches.

Can Scaloni's men rediscover their form and reach the latter stages of the competition?

Will Messi produce another memorable moment in Qatar to make us update this list?

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