Netherlands 2 (3) Argentina 2 (4)
By Jason Burt at the Lusail Iconic Stadium
A night of high drama turned into an early morning of frenzied, taunting, ugly relief and with the beautiful dream still alive for Lionel Messi's Argentina.
It was 12.55am in a still packed Lusail Stadium, with swathes of baying blue and white praying for Lautaro Martinez to strike home the winning penalty and end the shootout. The striker did just that as Argentina defeated the Netherlands who had mounted the most improbable and extraordinary of comebacks through substitute Wout Weghorst – still a Burnley player – when it seemed they were destined to exit the tournament.
Weghorst’s second goal even came through a stunningly clever free-kick routine – which was his idea – but that was out of kilter with everything the Dutch had previously done.
It was feisty, downright dirty and with huge amounts of gamesmanship. Even the post-match interviews were aggressive with Messi snapping at the Dutch camp as he talked.
Prior to that it appeared that Messi had defined his own destiny with a brilliant assist and a second-half penalty, before Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal went route one by bringing on two giant strikers and even throwing captain Virgil van Dijk up front. The Dutch launched it. Van Gaal-ball was hoofball; 1980s Wimbledon-style.
If it was Lautaro Martinez who scored the decisive kick then it was another Martinez, the Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who was the hero as he superbly saved the first two penalties from the Dutch, including turning away Van Dijk’s effort as he started the shootout. After his last-minute block to deny Australia in the previous round, Martinez is becoming an increasingly vital figure in Argentina’s quest.
If they had lost, this would have been 35-year-old Messi’s last World Cup appearance – just think about that – and would have meant his career closing without winning this trophy. But he goes on and it is Luka Modric’s Croatia who Argentina will face back at this stadium on Tuesday.
Instead, it is the end for another football legend with Van Gaal departing. The 71-year-old is stepping down after this tournament and this is the second World Cup in which he has lost to Argentina on penalties after the 2014 semi-final in Brazil.
Latest edition in a long grudge-match
It is a quarter-final that will also be remembered as the Battle of Lusail and another epic chapter in the rivalry between these two nations to rank up there with the 1978 World Cup final in Buenos Aires and the Dennis Bergkamp-inspired quarter-final in 1998. Maybe this one will belong to Martinez.
Messi thought it was his. Then Weghorst thought it was his as he came on and scored two goals in 20 minutes – having taken 1,457 minutes at Burnley to register the same total before deciding he did not fancy dropping down to the Championship and so went on loan to Besiktas in Turkey this season.
It was not a good night for Spanish referee Antonio Mateu, who brandished 15 yellow cards (one short of the record) and a red for Denzel Dumfries – and Messi could have been sent off after somehow not being booked for a deliberate handball – as he lost control. Near the end of normal time, Argentina substitute Leandro Paredes not only scythed down Nathan Ake, but then hammered the ball into the Dutch dugout and sparked a mass confrontation as he was barged over by Van Dijk.
It had all seemed routine for Argentina. The Dutch were rank. They barely strung a pass together and were outplayed. It felt like only a matter of time and when the goal came it was memorable for the pass of the tournament. And of course it was delivered by Messi. It came as he collected possession and ran from right to left about 30 yards out before playing a superb reverse pass, without appearing to even look and through Ake’s legs, to pick out the run of Nahuel Molina past a thicket of players. It was astonishing. The weight of the pass meant the full-back was suddenly through on goal and he stabbed the ball past Andries Noppert as the goalkeeper rushed out.
Into the second-half and it felt game over when Marcos Acuna was foolishly tripped by Dumfries. Messi missed his last penalty but he buried this one. Having failed from the spot against Poland, he collected the ball again and planted it to the goalkeeper’s left.
Van Gaal was unapologetic with his tactics. The Dutch had nothing to lose and so launched the ball long and it caused panic in an Argentinean defence that conceded free-kick after free-kick. Finally they got the delivery right with Weghorst powerfully heading a goal back.
There was more panic. And more free-kicks. Still, it was in the 10th minute of added time that Teun Koopermeiners had the presence of mind to pick out Weghorst with a precise free-kick, rather than taking the shot, and he smashed in the equaliser to force a period of extra-time that belonged to Argentina.
During that time the Dutch, who played for penalties, were holding on with Enzo Fernandez striking a post and Martinez twice going close. When he eventually did find the net it was with that final penalty before the gloating began. This one will also resonate.
A blizzard of yellow cards
How Paredes and Timber escaped without second yellows, I don't know. But here's the full list:
Jurrien Timber, Denzel Dumfries, Memphis Depay, Steven Bergwijn, Stephen Berghuis, Noa Lang and Wout Weghorst.
Cristian Romero, Nicolas Otamendi, Lisandro Martinez, Marcos Acuna, Gonzalo Montiel, Leandet Paredes, German Pezzella and coach Walter Samuel.
Montiel and Acuna miss the semi-final.
Watch the moment of victory
Agony and ecstasy captured for the second time today
Otamendi, No 19, who else?, follows the lead of Gore Vidal: It is not enough to succeed, others must fail.
Martinez the hero of the penalty shootout
Saving from Van Dijk and Berghuis. The Dutch stopped doing what had brought them back in the game during extra-time.
Netherlands 2 Argentina 2 (Argentina win 4-3 on penalties).
Desolation and anger for Netherlands, joy for Argentina
Weghorst is in tears. Dumfries has been having a barney with an Argentina player.
Whips it with his right foot inside the left post.
Netherlands 3 Argentina 4
Argentina go through.
Luuk de Jong steps up
And scores. Does a Messi. Stutters and sits Martinez down.
Netherlands 3 Argentina 3
Lautaro Martinez to win it.
Bends it wide of the left post.
Netherlands 2 Argentina 3
Weghorst stands up
Scores. Bottom left.
Netherlands 2 Argentina 3
Restores two goal advantage with two to take.
Netherlands 1 Argentina 3
Hope for Holland. And he silences the crowd.
Netherlands 1 Argentina 2
Unstoppable. Kisses the side-netting.
Holland 0 Argentina 2
Martinez dives to his left and batters away Berghuis' thumping shot. Wrists of steel.
Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Barely walks up, sits the keeper down and rolls it into the centre left of goal.
Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Martinez dives to his right and saves. Good height. Messi next.
Van Dijk takes the first penalty
It's very much an Argentina heavy crowd.
Penalty records of Argentina and Holland
What is Holland's penalty shoot-out record?
Penalty shoot-outs: Seven (two wins, five defeats)
England might have developed a penalty shoot-out complex over the years, but the Dutch may well be history's biggest spot-kick strugglers.
A quick run-through of all the defeats which will continue to sting: Denmark in the Euro 1992 semi-final; France in the Euro '96 quarter-final, Brazil at World Cup '98; Italy in the Euro 2000 semi-final; and Argentina in the 2014 World Cup semi-final.
In better news, they have won two of their past three, with that loss in Brazil eight years ago following a quarter-final triumph against Costa Rica when Jasper Cillessen made two saves, while there was also a 5-4 shoot-out win over Sweden at Euro 2004 to shout about.
What is Argentina's penalty shoot-out record?
Penalty shoot-outs: 14 (eight wins, six defeats)
Sergio Goycochea was the hero back in the 1990 World Cup semi-final, memorably denying Italy's Roberto Donadoni and Aldo Serena as Argentina secured a place in the final.
Fast forward eight years (look away now England fans) and Argentina were also successful in their next World Cup shoot-out, with the Three Lions crashing out in the last 16 after David Batty's gut-wrenching miss.
Argentina despatched Netherlands in the 2014 semi-final, as mentioned above, but could not overcome Germany in the final where Mario Götze's extra-time goal was the difference.
In their most recent shoot-out, Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martínez indulged in some trash talk with Colombia takers... and then saved three spot-kicks as Argentina progressed in the 2021 Copa América semi-final.
Full time: Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Blimey! Messi sprays a shot that is deflected wide, Noppert has to be alive to stop a cross creeping under his crossbar and then Fernandez thumps a shot into the foot of the right post. And that is that.
Two exhausted teams prepare for penalties.
119 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Berghuis wins a challenge, twists Tagliafico then sticks his cross down Martinez's throat. Argentina try to throw a haymaker of their own with a quick counter and then Lautaro swerves a shot that wobbles and dips and Noppert has to go with a parry not a catch but does it well enough to take it away from danger.
118 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Martinez comes out to claim a cross from Lang, who hss come on for Gakpo. Luuk De Jong was waiting to pounce.
117 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Argentina take the corner short then pick out Fernandez 18 yards out and he lets fly. Weghorst throws himself in front and the ball bounces up inches over the bar.
From the next corner Lautaro Martinez flashes a header wide.
115 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Fantastic block by Van Dijk, keeping out Lautaro Martinez's shot after good work from Montiel and Di Maria on the right.
114 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Gakpo chips the free-kick from the right to the far post. Luuk de Jong meets it with a left-foot volley he scuds into the grass and Pezzella blocks. It comes back to him and he thrashes a right foot shot at it and is penalised for some unknown reason.
112 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Di Maria comes on for Lisandro Martinez. Pezzella is booked for a sliding tackle from behind on Gakpo. Justified card.
110 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Gakpo makes a foolish, tired foul on Messi. Montiel is booked for criticising the referee for not giving Gakpo a card. He would miss any semi-final should they get through.
Messi plays the free-kick short, wanting a give and go. He duly gets it back and lashes a left-foot shot after Jonathan Pearce cries 'Here we go! Here we go!' It sails miles over.
108 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Weghorst is called offside. Messi was eventually booked for protesting too much before the Dutch equaliser:
106 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Montiel replaces Molina for Argentina and helps them to earn a corner when Gakpo slips. Messi takes and Noppert catches it at the second attempt.
Half-time Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
The Dutch have made four substitutions, Argentina three. Wonder if they ought to take Timber off. The Dutch can make two more given it's extra-time, Argentina three.
104 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Mac Allister who started so brightly but has faded in the last few minutes earns a free-kick. Argentoina switch it to the right and Timber commits another foul. How he's still on, I've no idea.
Messi floats the free-kick over the wall. Otamendi sprints to the byline and slides to try to turn it in with his right leg but it dips, hits the grass and skips out for a goalkick.
102 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Timber doesn't get out of Messi's way when he tries to spin him. Argentina's fans demand a second yellow card but the ref keeps them pocketed. Free-kick, 40 yards out. Messi overhits the cross, Goal kick.
100 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Otamendi clips Luuk de Jong round the ankles. Dutch free-kick on the right, 25 yards out. Berghuis spins it in with his left but it's not good enough and Frenkie de Jong is penalised for a foul after Argentina clear the cross.
98 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Lautaro Martinez came on for Alvarez a while back. And he's doing a lot of the carrying work, running forward with the ball. Gakpo sticks a deep cross on to the roof of Emi Martinez's net.
97 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
The Oranje have abandoned the Wing Cdr Reep tactics for passing it around and now look as toothless as they did before humping it up to the big yins.
95 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Bergwijn, who was subbed at half-time, and Otamendi, who is still on, have been booked for the confrontation at the final whistle.
94 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Messi roams deep then chips a diagonal into the box for Tagliafico who gets something on it to knock it back into the centre where Messi hopes it's going to sit up for a flying volley but Van Dijk, back at centre-half, nods it back to Noppert.
92 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
To be fair to Scaloni. This is what Argentina are doing. Sweeping passes around but only so far in the sterile zone just inside their own half.
91 minutes Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Lost count of the bookings that were handed out after the final whistle. Argentina need to get the ball on the floor and start playing.
End of normal time: Netherlands 2 Argentina 2
Argentina have lost the plot. Arguing with the referee. Going chest to chest with the Dutch even after the final whistle. Fancy having the chutzpah to trick the Argentinians with their last possible opportunity and execute it perfectly.
Argentina are totally rattled. Netherlands have to keep playing it long.
Netherlands 2 Argentina 2 (Weghorst) Balls of steel! What a move. Kopmeiners shaped to shoot but passed it to Weghorst in the wall. He turned and finished with his left foot. The nerve! The nerve! Do you remember Argentina's equaliser against England at Saint Etienne in 1998? The tricksters tricked.
90+9 min Netherlands 1 Argentina 2
Messi shoves Ake and gives away a free-kick. Koopmeiners knocks it up to the edge of the area and Argentina usher it out for a throw, from which Pezzella fouls Weghorst. Free-kick 22 yards out, left of centre.
90+8 min Netherlands 1 Argentina 2
Dumfries is exhausted and loses the ball and Berghuis, trying to recover, fouls Paredes just inside the Dutch half.
90+6 min Netherlands 1 Argentina 2
Koopmeiners sprays a long diagonal up to De Jing who tries to knock it on for Van Dijk but he puts too much on it. Lumpy van Gaal. Who'd have thought it?
90+4 min Netherlands 1 Argentina 2
Only Timber in the Dutch half and he knocks it long for Van Dijk who nods it on for Ake but Otamendi is fouled by Luuk de Jong as he wins the header from the resulting cross.
90+2 min Netherlands 1 Argentina 2
Beghuis thumps the free-kick straight into the wall. Martinez and Otamendi go up for the same header, clash heads and there will be a delay.
90+1 min Netherlands 1 Argentina 2
Otamendi boots Gakpo 22 yards out, dead centre. Free-kick. Van Gaal was booked for shoving over Paredes after he smashed the ball into the dug-out.
90 min Netherlands 1 Argentina 2
The free-kick is too long and sails beyond Dumfries.
Ten minutes of stoppage time yo come.
89 min Netherlands 1 Argentina 2
Paredes smashes the ball into the Dutch bench after fouling Ake. On come the substitutes to give him a piece of their minds. This lax referee gives him only a yellow. The foul on Ake was a yellow, booting the ball should have been another.
87 min Netherlands 1 Argentina 2
Berghuis is yellow-carded for colliding tamely with Messi and blowing his top after being penalised.
85 min Netherlands 1 Argentina 2
Netherlands come within inches of an equaliser when De Jong lashes a right-foot half-volley from Berghuis's cute lay-off into the side netting, only by virtue of a deflection. Argentina look rattled by the 'stick it in the mixer' approach.
Netherlands 1 Argentina 2 (Weghorst) And it works. Weghorst runs across Otamendi to bury a near-post header from a right-wing cross into the bottom left corner.
81 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 2
Holland are going to lump it to their big strikers and will start with a free-kick for a foul on Gakpo. But he can't beat the first sentries and Gakpo's cross is headed away on the 18-yard line. Make that three big men as Van Dijk is up there, too.
77 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 2
We are not shown a pitch protestor. Lisandro Martinez was booked for having a pop at De Jong.
Tagliafico and Pezzella come on for Romero and Acuna. Weghorst replaces Memphis.
75 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 2
Argentina go spare when Luuk de Jong clatters into Martinez. The goalkeeper caught it but De Jong was entitled to go for it. Acuna et al surround him as if he's drooped his trousers to their mothers.
Netherlands 0 Argentina 2 (Messi, pen) Buries it, sweeping it to the right and unstoppably into the side-netting. One assist. One goal.
Acuna stops abruptly to change direction, Dumfries keeps going and clips his heels. Messi places the ball on the spot.
68 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
The Dutch have lost their fluency. Maybe their belief, too. More long passes from Van Dijk required.
66 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Argentina withdraw De Paul and send on Paredes. The Dutch are back to 4-3-3. All is well with the world again.
65 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Daley Blind is replaced by Luuk de Jong. Ake switches to left-back in a back four.
64 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Messi whips it with his left, clears the wall and whistles over the bar, dipping a split second too late and kissing the top of the net and the right stanchion.
62 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Messi accelerates from the inside left and Dumfries and Van Dijk come together like sliding doors to block his path into the penalty area. Free-kick 20 yards out, left of the D. He is, you know.
61 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Gakpo tries to find Dumfries but puts far too much on it.
59 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Van Dijk finally goes long and almost picks out Dumfries. Argentina pick it off and counter. Lovely work from Mac Allister to lose his man just past the centre-circle but then overcooks the pass to De Paul steaming into the box on the right.
57 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Netherlands are back bossing possession but no ability as yet to get beyond Romero, Otamendi and Lisandro Martinez.
55 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Ake is all over Messi, almost man-marking him. When Ake wins the ball off him and tries to flick it over, Messi claws it back at him. No booking for the deliberate hand ball. The shirt, armband and his sainthood give him a get out of jail free card.
53 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Slick passing between De Jong, Gakpo and Depay opens a past for Blind to go down the left and hit a first-time cross which he does ... but steers it straight into Romero.
51 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
There's s surge of electricity whenever it looks like Messi can get on to the ball which goes up in volts when he does.
49 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Lisandro Martinez sees Dumfries chasing a through ball down the right and plays the percentages, lumping it out for a throw-in. Acuna wins the ball of Dumfries who sprints after him, nibbling away until Acuna stops believing that the referee will give him a free-kick, which he doesn't. Acuna throws his hands on to his head in disbelief.
48 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Messi sprays a pass to Acuna down the left and Dumfries sticks out a leg to divert his cross out for a corner. Alvarez flicks it on at the near post but there's no Albiceleste shirt to latch on to the glancing header.
47 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
De Jong fouls De Paul who stays a while on the deck.
46 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Two changers for the Dutch: Berghuis for Bergwijn and Koopmeiners for De Roon.
Jason Burt on Messi's goal
But then Messi took over. He collected possession and ran from right to left about 30 yards out before playing a superb reverse pass, without appearing to even look, to pick out the run of
Nahuel Molina through a thicket of players. Replays did indeed show Messi did not raise his gaze. So how did he do that?
The weight of the pass meant the full-back was suddenly through on goal but it appeared Virgil Van Dijk might recover. Instead Molina did well to hold him off and stab the ball past Andries Noppert as the goalkeeper rushed out.
Soon after and Messi turned one way and then another to create space but his shot lacked power and Noppert held it. Still the chants of “Messi” rang around. This is what so many fans had turned up for; this was what the world was expecting. Messi had delivered once more.
Half-time Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
A bit attritional so far. Argentina have negated the threat of Dumfries by kicking seven bells out of him but a piece of Messi brilliance has changed everything. The Argentina players walk off masking their mouths with their hands, nattering away. Holland have no punch up front.
45+4 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Blind throws himself on to the ground after bumping into Molina as he tried to round him. The referee waves him up.
45+2 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Weghorst, a substitute, is booked for going spare when Alvarez fouls Dumfries for what seems the umpteenth time. They've targeted him all match.
45 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Romero sticks up his hand to bat away Depay's flick and is booked. Netherlands free-kick on the left. Gakpo whips it to the far post with his right and all it needed was a touch that didn't come. VAR checks whether Ake was pushed by Acuna, which he was but not seemingly sufficiently to warrant sanction.
Five minutes of stoppage time go on the clock.
43 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Bad foul by Acuna on Dumfries, raking his Achilles with his studs. Timber goes over and puts his hand on his chest and Acuma throws himself to the turf. He's booked for the foul, that could have been red. Timber is booked for being daft.
40 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Dutch free-kick on the right after a trip on Gakpo. Netherlands whip it into the box and the referee blows for a foul on Lisandro Martinez.
38 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 1
Shot from Messi, 22 yards out, though a thicket of orange socks, easily snaffled by Noppert.
Netherlands 0-1 Argentina (Molina) Made by Messi with a gorgeous no look pass with his left, cocking his ankle round the ball as he darted to the right to thread a pass into the inside-right channel. The wing-back took a touch and just before Van Dijk could nip ahead, speared it with his right into the bottom left corner.
33 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Lisandro Martinez intercepts a pass intended for Dumfries and sparks a counter-attack that sagely gets the ball up to Messi as quickly as possible, quam celerrime, as classicists remember. He lays it off to De Paul who hits a soft shot from 20 yards at Noppert.
32 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
De Paul down the right can't pick out Mac Allister's clever run.
31 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Argentina are stuck in a back five too often, allowing the Dutch wing-backs to push on to them. Gakpo pulls over to the right and whips over a cross that Romero heads out.
30 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Gakpo shoves Otamendi over. Cheap free-kick. Can't help feeling Otamendi and Emi Martinez could be exposed by Netherlands tonight.
28 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Argentina adopt a higher line up front to try to pull Netherlands back closer to their goal. Foul on Mac Allister gives Argentina a free-kick in the Dutch half which ends up at the feet of their goalkeeper when they refuse to gamble to beat the press.
26 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Bergwijn drags a left-foot shot wide from the left of the penalty spot, spinning on to it and barging ahead of Depay. Van Gaal; has told his front three to stay high which means Argentina's centre-backs cannot join in and allowing De Roon and De Jong the freedom of midfield as Fernandez and De Paul can't get close.
24 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Messi receives the ball froma throw-in on the right, drops his shoulder to slip inside on to his left but blazes over when Van Dijk hurtles out to close him down.
22 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Fine pass from Ake sends Depay in down the inside left. Otamendi has to race over then pick his moment to toe it behind for a corner which the Dutch waste by going short. Molina stops Memphis.
20 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
The referee goes over to the Argentoan bench, gives Angel Di Maria the curly finger and summons him for a chat. Must have said something. Di Maria smiles as he is being ticked off and goes to sit down again. Scaloni is on his feet and getting very exercised by his side's lack of possession.
18 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Bergwijn makes a strong run down the inside-right channel and De Jong slides a long pass inside Acuna but puts too much gas on it.
The Dutch are hogging possession.
16 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Depay goes down the left and hits a long cross beyond the back post. Gakpo heads it back across and Depay cannot extend his neck to reach it as he underlapped Depay.
14 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Romero is spoken to by the referee for a decent-looking sliding tackle. Game's gone.
12 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Messi picks up the ball in the inside-right channel, tacks to his left with a shimmy and a dart, those legs going 19 to the dozen, before playing Acuna in down the left of the penalty area. The wing-back has runners through the middle but inexplicably wallops his cross so hard through the box that it beat everyone. Was he going for a pinball special?
10min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Dumfries bombs up the right but Acuna is hanging back, not giving him the chance to get into a race. He slips the ball inside but Depay's cheeky flick for Gakpo goes out of play.
8 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Argentina are letting Netherlands have the ball, sitting off but then they suddenly spring the press when they send the ball back to Noppert and Alvarez almost intercepts the goalkeeper's rather panicky clearance.
Rate the players
If that's your bag:
6 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Martin Keown's at it again. 'Messi, the footballing god that he is.' The wee man does drive up the left and pulls the ball back but the Dutch are well organised and easily repel the scuffed shot.
4 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
The 2014 semi-final was a real dog of a game. And already both sides are sitting very deep when the other has the ball. Molina barges Gakpo over and then claims to have hurt his face. There was no contact whatsoever with his face.
2 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
Mac Allister sprints up the left in the inside channel and rolls the ball out to Acuna on the overlap having glided past De Jong. Acuna's cross is low and poor. Netherlands clear.
1 min Netherlands 0 Argentina 0
The Dutch kick-off, all in orange. No more white or black shorts for them. Argentina have gone to a three centre-back system with Acuna and Molina pushed high.
Pennant swapping ensues
And the Argentina fans, who outnumber the Dutch by about 10 to one, are banging the Diego drum.
We start proceedings with the national anthems
The Dutch go first/
Tom Morgan reports from Lusail
Surprisingly, there are still empty seats as two of the best fanbases in the business arrive late at the Lusail tonight - but it's still a hell of a noise. Holland usually bring great numbers to tournaments, but they are outnumbered 15 to one at this one. At this World Cup, Argentina have always felt the biggest show in town, and the streets around the Lusail Stadium, where the final will be held in a week's time, were packed even four hours from kick-off.
Presumably the stadium is taking longer than usual to fill up as fans have been either hunched around phones or gathering around the big screen on the promenade to see Brazil go out on penalties.
Having seen their great rivals put to the sword, the Argentinians have quickly instated themselves as tournament favourites.
"It's our year, Messi versus Europe and Messi wins," said Margaret Gonzales, 51, from Buenos Aires.
Is this how you spell hubris?
Argentina mirror Dutch formation
Thanks to Ellen McLaughlin for holding the fort while I was on the other match. Looking at those line-ups it's clear that Argentina have switched to a back three with Molina and Acuna as wing-backs.
Netherlands' left wing-back Memphis Depay is the only survivor in the starting XIs from the 2014 semi-final, which Holland lost on penalties, other than Lionel Messi, of course.
No one saw that coming
We know one of our World Cup semi-finalists and it's not Brazil!
Croatia knocked out Tito's side out of the World Cup, beating the the five-time champions 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the semi-finals.
The match finished 1-1 after 120 minutes played, with both games coming in extra time.
For all the latest reaction follow our live blog here.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal has sprung a surprise by starting with forward Steven Bergwijn and dropping midfielder Davy Klaassen suggesting he will adopt a three-man attack led by Memphis Depay and with Cody Gakpo who has scored three goals in the tournament so far.
Netherlands XI: Noppert, Timber, Van Dijk, Ake, Dumfries, Blind, De Roon, Bergwijn, De Jong, Depay, Gakpo.
Argentina have recalled Lisandro Martinez who replaces Alejandro Gomez in a tactical switch to their line-up for their quarter-final clash against the Netherlands. It seems the inclusion of Martinez does hint at some caution from Lionel Scaloni, who was able to include Rodrigo De Paul after some reports in the media, which he denied of having a muscle issue.
However, Argentina's veteran attacker Angel di Maria, who was a serious doubt for the match, has not made the line-up for the second successive game. He started all of Argentina's group encounters but missed the last-16 victory over Australia due to a thigh injury.
Argentina XI: Martinez, Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Martinez, Acuna, De Paul, Fernandez, Mac Allister, Messi, Alvarez
Can Van Gaal recreate the run of 'Brilliant Oranje'?
Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport's live coverage of Netherlands vs Argentina, the fifth meeting between these two nations in the World Cup finals.
Their first meeting was at the group stage in 1974 at the apogee of 'Brilliant Oranje' when Rinus Michels' side won 4-0. Four years later Argentina had their revenge on home soil by beating Netherlands 3-1 in the final.
They did not meet again for 20 years, when Dennis Bergkamp settled the quarter-final with a sublime 90th-minute winner.
Daniel Passarella and Diego Maradona are the Argentinian captains to have lifted the trophy, something Messi is hoping to emulate as the pinnacle of a truly glorious career. The Dutch are yet to win the tournament, but count three runners-up finishes and two semi-final runs since 1974,
Van Gaal’s decision to abandon the traditional Dutch attacking approach and employ a counter-attack strategy has put many of his compatriots’ backs up but he continues to insist he has the best tactics.
Asked how he planned to stop Lionel Messi, he said: "It'd be pretty stupid to reveal your own tactics."
"But it's not that difficult to come up with any answer. You could have come up with an answer yourself. You may want to block and close the passing lines."
In the last two World Cup meetings between Argentina and Netherlands, in the group stage in 2006 and a semi-final in 2014 which the Albiceleste won on penalties, neither side was able to score a goal in normal or extra time.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said his side had been practising spot-kicks but hoped the match did not come down to a shootout.
"They always take penalties before and after matches but it's all about luck when it comes to the penalty shootout," he said. "I hope we don't get to the penalty shootout, we hope the match is over before that."
"We know that we will give it all on the pitch. We know that football sometimes can be very beautiful and sometimes it can be cruel."