Lionel Messi says Argentina made their “true debut” at the 2022 World Cup during the second half of their 2-0 win over Mexico.
Argentina came into the game in desperate need of victory having lost their opening match 2-1 to Saudi Arabia.
They seemed to be heading for another setback after an uneventful first half, but captain Messi delivered a moment of magic with a 20-yard shot which arrowed into the corner of the net, before substitute Enzo Fernandes curled home a brilliant second to seal a 2-0 win.
“We needed this result,” Messi said afterwards. “It seems like in the second half we made our true debut.
“The first game was difficult for us. It is normal. In the first game there is a lot of pressure and we have many young players and it is their first game in the World Cup. It’s not an excuse, we did not play well.”
The Argentine, competing in his fifth World Cup at age 35, has won every other major title in his career but has failed to lift the coveted trophy despite making the final in 2014.
Argentina, on three points, can guarantee progress with a win over Poland, top on four, in their final game on Wednesday.
“Today starts another World Cup for Argentina,” Messi said. “I tell people the same thing, that they continue to believe. Today we did what we had to do. We had no other choice. We had to win so that we depended only on ourselves.”
Additional reporting by Reuters