The moment Manchester United ace Lisandro Martinez kept Lionel Messi’s World Cup dream alive.

December 3, 2022

The Man United defender produced a moment of magic to keep Argentina’s trophy hopes alive.

Lisandro Martinez has only started one game for Argentina at the World Cup but he may have provided one of their most crucial moments at the tournament so far.

The Manchester United defender came off the bench five minutes after half-time in their 2-1 win over Australia. He saw Julian Alvarez put his side 2-0 up seven minutes later following a mistake from goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, after Lionel Messi’s first-half strike on his 1,000th career appearance.

A heavily deflected effort from Socceroos star Craig Goodwin went down as an own goal by United-linked Enzo Fernandez on 77 minutes to set up a tense finale. Dundee United’s Aziz Behich then went on a fabulous mazy run, leaving defenders in his wake eight minutes from time.

He looked certain to make the net bulge before Martinez steamed in to produce a last-gasp block to send the ball out for a corner to deny what would have been the goal of the tournament. The defender has only started the 2-0 win over Mexico having been a substitute in the shock loss to Saudi Arabia but has now made a case for him to begin the quarter-final.

Despite missing late chances to wrap up the tie, Argentina hung on to set up a last-eight clash with the Netherlands, who beat the United States 3-1 earlier in the day. Louis van Gaal left Tyrell Malaciaon the bench for a fourth straight game in the triumph.

The United left-back has not played a single minute in Qatar with ex-Reds defender Daley Blind, who scored against the USA, being the preferred option. Meanwhile, a number of stars linked with an Old Trafford switch made a mark.

Memphis Depay netted the opener after 10 minutes from a Denzel Dumfries assist. The Inter Milan right-back set up Blind for the second goal before the player himself eased the pressure on his side with the third after Haji Wright’s unorthodox finish pulled one back for the US.

Cody Gakpo began the game as a striker again while Frenkie de Jong operated the midfield.