Lionel Messi, Argentina’s mainstay, marked his 1000th career game with a goal and win against Australia at the FIFA World Cup 2022. The 35-year-old, with 9, overtook Argentine legend Diego Maradona and Guillermo Stabile’s tally of eight World Cup goals for the country. He is one behind Gabriel Batistuta.

With Messi’s 35th minute strike gave Argentina a 1-0 first half lead and Julian Alvarez’s 57th goal sealed the game for the Albiceleste. They won 2-1. 

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Lionel Messi had been mostly quiet before his goal. An argument with an Australian player triggered the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner to hustle in the opponent’s penalty box to get one in. He sent a pass inside to the edge of the area and kept running, eventually receiving a lay-off from Nicolas Otamendi to take one touch and stroke his finish through the long legs of Australia defender Harry Souttar — the tallest outfield player at the World Cup.

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With his performance, Messi also overtook Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo by winning his eighth Man of the Match in World Cups. CR7, who will play Switzerland in his round of 16 tie, has seven. The 37-year-old has eight goals in the tournament, one less than Leo. 

Comparing Messi and Ronaldo’s stats after 1000 career games:

Ronaldo played his 1000th career match for Juventus, against SPAL in Serie A in 2020. He scored to win the game 2-1. 

After 1000 games, Cristiano Ronaldo had 725 goals and 216 assists. Messi has 789 and 348 respectively. 

Ronaldo had won 31 trophies and his Argentine counterpart has 41. 

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“The whole of Argentina would like to be here, but it’s not possible,” Messi said after the Australia game. “This bond, this union we have, it’s beautiful.”

Argentina and the Netherlands will play their quarterfinal match at Lusail Stadium. The teams last met at the World Cup in 2014, when Argentina won a penalty shootout in the semifinals.