Magical. Mercurial. Magnanimous. Messi. In a FIFA World Cup grudge match between Mexico, Argentina broke the deadlock through the prodigious left foot of Lionel Messi.

Having lost their opener to Saudi Arabia 2-1, this game was a must-win for Argentina. But, with all the hype, pressure, and expectations, the little wizard produced a moment of World Cup magic that may be the difference in Argentina’s World Cup run.

Messi’s and Argentina’s struggle to get in sync would extend into the second half: missed time passes and runs, getting pushed out of attacking lanes, and getting fouled or bodied off the ball with ease.

A draw for Argentina would have left them hanging on by a thread, going into their final group stage match against Poland, who won their game against Saudi Arabia.

This result will move Argentina into Group C’s second spot behind Poland.

Mexico will play Saudi Arabia Wednesday (2 pm ET) at Lusail Stadium. Argentina will play Poland Wednesday (2 pm ET) at Stadium 974.

[Fox Soccer]

About Mike Gawdzik

A fan of the Red Devils and White Sox, Mike Gawdzik is a high school English teacher by day and a writer by night. He tries to write what he knows, like when he was a drag queen for a day or when he competed in an amateur boxing tournament in South Korea. When reading student essays isn’t enough for him, he’s also the creative nonfiction editor for Flying Island and Sport Literate.