Day 14 of the FIFA World Cup 2022 saw Netherlands and Argentina book their spots in the quarterfinal as they respectively sent the US and Australia packing. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi created more history.
Much can be highlighted from the matches on the day. Here are some takeaways for our OBSERVER ONLINE readers.
1. Tactical Dominance by the Dutch
A clinical and tactically superior Netherlands saw them easily dismiss the US to punch their ticket to the quarter-finals. Memphis Depay netted his 43rd goal for the Oranje to give them the lead in the 10th minute before Daley Blind’s first half stoppage time goal gave them a comfortable lead. But it was Denzel Dumfries’ 81st minute strike that sealed the deal for Netherlands. They won 3-1 and will face Argentina in the quarter-finals.
2. The American Dream shattered
The United States became the first team to be eliminated in the round of 16 after a 3-1 defeat by Netherlands. USA’s World Cup hopes remained alive when Haji Wright scored for the Stars and Stripes in the 76th to cut the deficit to 2-1. But their lack of a number 9 to score goals, which has been a major problem for the North Americans, was even more evident against the defensively organised Dutch and was once again their downfal. The US have advanced beyond the round of 16 only once in the modern era, in 2002. Their elimination this time around is the same finish as their 1994, 2010 and 2014 squads.
3. Messi Milestones
Lionel Messi, in his 1000th career game, scored his first goal in the knockout stages of a World Cup. It wad also his ninth World Cup goal, which saw him pass football legend Diego Maradona to become Argentina's second highest goal scorer at the World Cup, trailing only Gabriel Batistuta's 10 goals.
4. Respect mate
Despite their elimination, in typical Austrailian style, the Socceroos did not go down without a fight and could have tied the game in the dying moments. With two wins in the group stage, including a win over a Denmark team that were considered a dark horse coming into the World Cup, it was a good tournament for the Australians.