A Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina saw off a spirited Netherlands fightback to book their place in the semifinals of the 2022 World Cup after a thrilling contest in Lusail.
The Albiceleste looked home and hosed late in the second half after their talismanic No.10 dispatched a penalty to follow up a barely believable assist for Nahuel Molina in the opening 45 minutes.
But the course of the game changed when substitute Wout Weghorst entered the action for the Dutch and soon headed home what initially appeared to be little more than a consolation goal.
Argentina simply could not handle the former Burnley striker’s physicality, and he sent the game to extra time by poking a finish home in the final minute of time added on after a genius free-kick routine.
However, that ultimately only delayed the Netherlands’ misery, with goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez producing more penalty heroics to save twice and send Argentina into the last four.
They will now face Croatia there rather than old rivals Brazil, after Zlatko Dalic’s side produced yet another shock in the day’s earlier game to also go through via a shootout.
MORE: When is Argentina vs Croatia in World Cup semifinals?
ARGENTINA WIN 4-3 ON PENALTIES
ARG — Molina (35 mins)
ARG — Messi (73 mins)
NED — Weghorst (83 mins)
NED — Weghorst (90 +11 mins)
Argentina (3-5-2, right to left): 23. E. Martinez (GK) — 13. Romero, 19. Otamendi, 25. L. Martinez — 26. Molina, 20. Mac Allister, 7. De Paul, 24. E. Fernandez, 8. Acuna — 9. Alvarez, 10. Messi
Netherlands (3-4-1-2, right to left): 23. Noppert (GK) — 2. Timber, 4. Van Dijk, 5. Ake — 22. Dumfries, 15. De Roon, 21. De Jong, 17. Blind — 10. Gakpo — 7. Bergwijn, 10. Depay
MORE: Watch every World Cup match live with fuboTV (U.S.-only free trial)
10th penalty: Lautaro Martinez to take… SCORES! ARGENTINA WIN IT!!! 4-3
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ARGENTINA IS MOVING ON TO THE SEMIFINALS 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/lUe4bRMuvT
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That’s it! Argentina are in the World Cup semi-finals! 🇦🇷
📺💻🎧 Reaction on @BBCiPlayer, @BBCOne, and on @BBCSounds #BBCFootball #BBCWorldCup pic.twitter.com/BzDyG3H0rS
9th penalty: Luuk De Jong to take… SCORES! Rolled into the net. Netherlands 3-3 Argentina
8th penalty: Enzo Fernandez to take… MISSES! A long way wide of the goal! Netherlands 2-3 Argentina
7th penalty: Wout Weghorst to take… SCORES! Netherlands 2-3 Argentina
6th penalty: Gonzalo Montiel to take… SCORES! Netherlands 1-3 Argentina
5th penalty: Teun Koopmeiners to take… SCORES! A brilliantly calm spot kick. Netherlands 1-2 Argentina
4th penalty: Leandro Paredes to take… SCORES! Power penalty. Netherlands 0-2 Argentina
3rd penalty: Steven Berghuis to take… SAVED! Martinez incredible. Netherlands 0-1 Argentina
2nd penalty: Lionel Messi to take… SCORES! Calm as you like. Netherlands 0-1 Argentina
1st penalty: Virgil Van Dijk to take… SAVED! Netherlands 0-0 Argentina
FULLTIME: All over and we are heading to penalties!
120th min: OFF THE POST!
Enzo Fernandez hits one brilliantly from the edge of the area but, while the keeper is beaten, the upright is not, and the ball flies back out to safety. So unlucky.
115th min: Chance! Lautaro Martinez runs onto a pullback and smashes it goalward but Virgil van Dijk gets his body in front.
Argentina really pushing now but do they have the time to make it count?
111th min: Lisandro Martinez makes way for Angel Di Maria — how he’d love to break Louis van Gaal’s heart with a winner here given their history at Manchester United.
110th min: Messi works a yard at the edge of the box but his effort flies high and wide of the goal.
You don’t get a lot of goals in extra time generally and we’re still waiting here.
106th min: Back at it. Nobody will want to slip up now!
HALFTIME: No more goals in the first period of extra time. Will we see a moment of inspiration, a mistake, or penalties decide this one?
104rd min: Messi dinks a free-kick to the far post but Nicolas Otamendi can’t reach it on the stretch and the ball bounces harmlessly out of play.
96th min: Argentina couldn’t get out of their own box in the final 15 minutes of normal time but now they’re dominating possession once again and controlling things.
Why have the Dutch stopped going long when they were getting such joy from it?
91st min: We’re back underway. Here’s a quick reminder of how we got here:
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WOW!!! WHAT A GOAL BY THE NETHERLANDS IN THE FINAL SECONDS 🤯🇳🇱 pic.twitter.com/9MUm36o1KJ
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WELL THEN 😳
Wout Weghorst’s second goal sends it to extra-time! 😱#BBCFootball #BBCWorldCup pic.twitter.com/2pVsJhuKQf
FULLTIME: On we go to extra time! What a finish to the game.
90th min+11: GOAL! They’ve done it!!!!
Steven Berghuis faints to hit the free-kick and simply rolls it in to Wout Weghorst, who turns and gets away a left-footed strike that dribbles into the back of the net.
Can you believe it?
90th min+9: Wout Weghorst gets a shove in the back from Nicolas Otamendi and that is a dangerous free-kick to give away in the final seconds of the match…
90th min+5: What a defensive header from Nicolas Otamendi. The Netherlands are throwing the ball into the box ceaselessly at this point but the Argentines standing up to the examination.
90th min: Ten minutes of added time — wow! So much time for the Dutch to get an equaliser here.
89th min: It’s all kicking off!
Leandro Paredes nearly cuts Ake in half with a late challenge and then needlessly smashes the ball into the Dutch bench.
He gets a yellow for his trouble and there’s a lot of pushing and shoving in the aftermath.
87th min: The Netherlands knocking it around and probing now but have they left it too late?
83rd min: GOAL! The Dutch are back in it!
Finally they put a quality delivery into the box and Wout Weghorst is there to nod it beyond Emiliano Martinez’s despairing dive and tee up a fascinating finish.
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NETHERLANDS TAKES ONE BACK 🇳🇱
GAME. ON. pic.twitter.com/QY0zGebR5s
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Wout Weghorst gets Netherlands back in it!
That’s his first World Cup goal 👏
Watch on @BBCiPlayer or @BBCOne, or listen on @BBCSounds 📺💻🎧#BBCFootball #BBCWorldCup
78th min: Marcos Acuna and Cristian Romero off for Argentina, who bring on Nicolas Tagliafico and German Pezzella in their place.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, turn to Wout Weghorst in place of Memphis Depay.
73rd min: GOAL! No mistake from Messi, who takes one step and smashes the ball beyond a rooted Andries Noppert to make it 2-0.
72nd min: PENALTY TO ARGENTINA!
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Of course. Lionel Messi 👏
He is now Argentina’s joint-top World Cup goalscorer! 🇦🇷 #BBCFootball #BBCWorldCup pic.twitter.com/QJWsBL60Nc
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KING LEO 👑🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/8IKvHUCKSm
Denzel Dumfries trips Marcos Acuna after he cuts inside in the box and the referee doesn’t hesitate to point to the spot.
67th min: Rodrigo De Paul was a doubt for this game and so it’s little surprise to see him make way for Paredes. A good shift.
Meanwhile, the Dutch appear to have switched to a back four as they look to get more players up the pitch to actually threaten Argentina.
63rd min: Messi lines up a free-kick 25 yards out…… Wow, that is close.
The net rippled but, unfortunately for the Argentina fans, it’s the wrong side of the top of it. A brilliant, powerful, dipping effort.
61st min: The Netherlands’ halftime substitutions haven’t changed a thing for them if the first 15 minutes of this half are anything to go by.
Louis van Gaal needs to find inspiration from somewhere or he and his countrymen are on their way home.
55th min: Messi commits a deliberate handball in sheer frustration as Nathan Ake just about manages to clear a dangerous bouncing ball but he somehow gets away without a booking.
Is that a reflection of his status in the game or a fair decision?
51st min: Rodrigo De Paul overhits a ball in behind for Messi and that is a real wasted opportunity given the Dutch backline was clearly caught flat-footed.
Argentina’s No.10 might have caught up to that five years ago but not now.
46th min: Argentina get the game restarted. Will those Netherlands subs change the flow of the game?
HALFTIME: Two changes for the Dutch before the restart, with Steven Bergwijn and Marten De Roon making way for Steven Berghuis and Teun Koopmeiners.
HALFTIME: A crazy angle of the Messi assist for you to enjoy at halftime.
That passing line wasn’t even there from the tactical camera angle.
Scandalous from Leo Messi. pic.twitter.com/CUh73t1fNy
HALFTIME: The whistle sounds at Lusail Stadium and Argentina have a slender lead thanks to Nahuel Molina’s goal.
Louis van Gaal’s men haven’t really got going – can he come up with a tactical plan to change things in the second half?
45th min+2: Wout Weghorst now picks up a yellow card on the Dutch bench for a poor choice of words when speaking to the officials.
This is quite a feisty affair and there is real potential for further cards, including a game-changing red.
44th min: Two bookings handed out in quick succession.
The first goes to Marcos Acuna for a poor challenge that sees him rake his studs down Denzel Dumfries’ Achilles tendon and the second to Timber for his reaction to the tackle.
Acuna will now miss the semifinal as a result of that caution.
40th min: Messi twists and turns in the Netherlands box before unleashing a right-footed shot but it is not his most powerful and Andries Noppert collects easily.
35th min: GOAL!!! Argentina take the lead through Nahuel Molina but this goal has Messi’s fingerprints all over it.
The diminutive No.10 produces a beautifully disguised ball in behind a massed Dutch backline for his right-back, who does well to collect the pass and drag it in front of him before poking past an onrushing Andries Noppert.
Lusail Stadium absolutely erupts.
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Can’t stop watching Lionel Messi’s assist.
Still not over this pass to set up Argentina’s opening goal 🎯 pic.twitter.com/7m190cbl8S
33rd min: Argentina put together one of the more promising passages of play seen so far and get Rodrigo De Paul into space at the edge of the box for a shot.
It’s easily saved but Lionel Scaloni will be encouraged by that.
24th min: Steven Bergwijn drags a left-footed shot wide after a quick exchange of passes with Memphis Depay.
That’s as close as the Netherlands have come so far and was perhaps a better chance than it looked in the end.
18th min: Emiliano Martinez into action for the first time as he collects an overhit ball in behind that Steven Bergwijn was being asked to chase.
13th min: As cagey as you’d expect in these opening stages, with Argentina having enjoyed the majority of the possession.
The Netherlands trying to keep as many players as possible close to Messi, blocking him from receiving the ball or building up a head of steam when he gets it.
5th min: Argentina fans vastly outnumbering their Dutch counterparts in the stadium — this is like a home game for Messi and Co.
1st min: The Netherlands get us under way through Memphis Depay.
5 mins from kickoff: The players heading out onto the pitch now — will it be Argentina or the Netherlands who join Croatia in the semifinals?
25 mins from kickoff: The Netherlands could do with this man shining tonight.
⭐️ Cody Gakpo has been the Netherlands’ brightest star at this tournament.
As well as netting three goals in four outings, he also ranks first in the following for his side:
◉ Passes played into the box (28)
◉ Chances created (9)
◉ Dribbles completed (5)#FIFAWorldCup pic.twitter.com/lYv6lMYPp6
45 mins from kickoff: Well, a change of shape from Lionel Scaloni as he looks to match the Netherlands up.
You wonder how much that has been motivated by questions over Angel Di Maria’s fitness, though it could of course be a purely tactical choice.
1 hr from kickoff: And here is how Argentina line up…
E Martínez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, L Martínez, Acuña; De Paul, Fernández, Mac Allister; Messi, Álvarez
1 hr 5 mins from kickoff: The Dutch team is in!
𝗟𝗜𝗡𝗘-𝗨𝗣 for the big one! ⚔️🇦🇷#WorldCup #NEDARG pic.twitter.com/ZVSHb7Xn25
1 hr 10 mins from kickoff: WOW! Croatia win it 4-2 on penalties and Brazil are out of the World Cup!
The Netherlands and Argentina now know they won’t have to face the tournament favourites to get to the final in Qatar. What an opportunity.
1 hr 20 mins from kickoff: Incredible stuff in the other semifinal as Croatia grab a late equaliser in extra-time to take the game to penalties.
Brazil had made all the running, but can they recover from the blow of giving up the win so late to come out on top in the shootout?
1 hr 45 mins from kickoff: Scenes!
𝘛𝘏𝘐𝘚 𝘚𝘜𝘗𝘗𝘖𝘙𝘛! 💯#WorldCup #NEDARG pic.twitter.com/mXcqADirKp
2 hrs 10 mins from kickoff: Brazil vs Croatia is now heading to extra time and, to be honest, we should have seen it coming.
That’s eight out of Croatia’s last nine knockout-stage games at major tournaments that have needed an added period of time to settle them. Brazil will be desperate to stop this going to the lottery of penalties now.
2 hrs 40 mins from kickoff: An hour gone in Brazil vs Croatia and the game remains goalless.
Argentina and the Netherlands no closer to knowing who they might face in the semi-finals in Qatar, should they progress.
3 hrs 20 mins from kickoff: Some absolutely iconic clashes between these two nations featured here – let’s hope for another one today.
Half a century of World Cup tangos. 🇳🇱🇦🇷#NothingLikeOranje #WorldCup #NEDARG | @Argentina pic.twitter.com/osO9omTVi9
3 hrs 50 mins from kickoff: Things are under way in today’s other World Cup semi-final tie, which sees Brazil take on Croatia.
A meeting with one of these teams is what Argentina and the Netherlands are playing for and we’ll keep you up to date with the score from that one.
4 hrs 15 mins from kickoff: It’s worth looking at the odds for this tie. The sports bookmakers really cannot call it. Argentina come in with the very slight upper hand but you’d be foolish to rule out Van Gaal and this disciplined and slick Dutch side. Here’s how the odds translate across various companies and countries:
4 hrs 30 mins from kickoff: You’ve got to hand it to AD SportWereld with the “Last Tango” cover featuring Lionel Messi and Louis Van Gaal.
De cover van AD Sportwereld van vrijdag 9 december. Daarin uiteraard volop aandacht voor de kwartfinale tussen Nederland en Argentinië, met interviews met Frenkie de Jong en Ron Vlaar, een terugblik op de voorgaande WK-edities en de columns van Sjoerd Mossou en Thijs Zonneveld pic.twitter.com/cqMio8Ljkf
4 hrs 45 mins from kickoff: The last time these two teams met was the 2014 World Cup semifinal. Argentina came ahead there as well on penalty kicks. Here was the clincher:
La última vez de Argentina-Países Bajos en un Mundial.
5 hrs from kickoff: These two teams faced off in a World Cup final back in 1978 when Argentina hosted the World Cup. The Netherlands where a post away from winning it late. The Dutch have never won a World Cup.
En vísperas de un duelo histórico, imposible no recordar la final del Mundial 1978 entre Argentina y Países Bajos. Hace unos meses, la BBC se encargó de realizar un resumen en alta definición. Es un lujo. pic.twitter.com/UtOu6SNlN2
5 hrs from kickoff: Slight tweak in the uniforms for this match:
Argentina will wear the sky blue and white shirt vs. Netherlands in the quarter finals. But for the first time at this World Cup, they will wear white shorts and white socks, not black shorts and black socks. 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/Vm0IBQrHHY
This quarterfinal clash will be played at Lusail Stadium, site of the World Cup final, but also where Argentina lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in one of the biggest World Cup upsets in history.
Here’s how you can watch all the action in some of the major global territories.