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Lionel Messi issues 2022 World Cup warning as Argentina hero belatedly kicks off Qatar campaign

After being stunned by Saudi Arabia in their opener earlier in the week, Argentina knew a second straight loss would have seen them knocked out of the tournament with one game to spare.

However, Messi’s sensational 64th-minute opener and substitute Enzo Fernandez’s excellent curling effort secured a 2-0 victory and Lionel Scaloni’s men can secure a place in the knockout stages by beating the Poland in their final game on Wednesday.

“Today starts another World Cup for Argentina,” Messi said. “I tell people the same thing, which they continue to believe. Today we did what we had to do.

“We had no other choice. We had to win to depend only on ourselves.

“The first half we didn’t play like we should and in the second when we calmed down we started to play the ball better and until the goal we were back to where we are.”

Lionel Scaloni made five changes to the XI which started the defeat against Saudi Arabia, Argentina’s first since July 2019.

Scaloni also made a number of formation changes in the game but refused to credit the win, instead pointing to Messi’s brilliance.

“Messi scored the goal and he did what he does,” Scaloni said. “The important thing is to enjoy this World Cup. Messi should enjoy this World Cup and all the fans love to see him play.

“The dressing room felt good at half-time given the difficulty of the game. We didn’t expect to lead 3-0 at half-time. We asked for patience.

“Today the game has changed, but I don’t think it’s in every detail. It’s because besides having other great players, we have Leo.

Sports standard

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