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UPDATE 1-Argentina defeats the Netherlands on penalties and is a World Cup semifinalist

(Update with details)

LUSAIL, Qatar, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Argentina, one of the big favorites for the title, advanced to the World Cup semifinals on Friday by beating the Netherlands 4-3 on penalties, after a long-suffering game in which they let escape in the last minutes a two-goal lead and had to wait until the drama of the shootout to celebrate.

On penalties, Messi, Leandro Paredes, Gonzalo Montiel and Lautaro Martínez scored for Argentina, while Teun Koopmeiners, Wout Weghorst and Luuk de Jong scored for the Netherlands.

The Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez became a hero by blocking the first two shots of the series from Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis.

Enzo Fernández missed the third shot for the “Albiceleste”.

The two-time world champions in 1978 and 1986 will play a semifinal again after eight years, as they did in 2014 in Brazil. Now, the “albiceleste” will collide on Tuesday with Croatia, which earlier in the day beat Brazil 4-2 on penalties after 1-1 in 120 minutes of regulation.

Argentina led 2-0 thanks to a great presentation by Lionel Messi with an assist for Nahuel Molina at 35 minutes and a penalty goal at 73 minutes, but the Netherlands equalized with a brace from Wout Weghorst at 83 and 101 .

With his fourth goal in Qatar, Messi equaled Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s top scorer in the World Cup with 10 goals, surpassing Diego Maradona by two.

In the match played at the Lusail stadium, the teams proposed an even game from the start with similar schemes, lines of five defenders to maximize defensive care and direct play after recovery.

In the midst of this parity of styles, Argentina took a step forward thanks to the presence of Messi, with the handling of the ball, the distribution for his teammates and the individual imbalance.

It was Messi who brought danger on several occasions with long distance shots and made the difference at 34 with a precious filtered pass that Nahuel Molina received against Andries Noppert and sent into the net.

The Netherlands did not react until the start of the second stage, when they advanced their lines and took possession of the ball against an opponent who in the first minutes chose to wait in their field.

The selected “albiceleste” found greater spaces and threatened on several occasions to hit again, but he lacked precision to finish the attack actions.

A free kick taken in the 62nd minute by Messi that grazed the crossbar made the Argentine fans who were in the majority in the Lusail stadium yell.

The second goal came at 72 through a penalty that Messi finished off to the left of Noppert, after a violation by Denzel Dumfries on Marcos Acuña.

The team led by the experienced Louis van Gaal did not give up, they added attackers and their bet to look for the discount with air shipments paid off in the 83rd minute with a header from Wout Weghorst.

In a finale full of tension and drama, the Netherlands equalized in the last play of regular time with Weghorst’s double from a free kick that took the “albiceleste” players by surprise.

In the extra period, Argentina recovered and had several opportunities to win through Lautaro Martínez on two occasions and Enzo Fernández, but they lacked accuracy to finish the play and had to bet on their aim on penalties. (Reporting by Ramiro Scandolo via Spanish editing table. Editing by Javier Leira)

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