Lionel Messi came up with another critical goal for Argentina in the 2-0 win over Mexico on Saturday that reignited his World Cup dream.
The PSG forward ran towards Argentina’s fans with outstretched arms before getting mobbed by his jubilant teammates after breaking the deadlock in the 64th minute with his side teetering.
Messi looked emotional as he grabbed and shook his jersey, then blew a kiss to the crowd before whirling his arms.
Substitute Enzo Fernandez added a second goal in the 87th minute to wrap up the win for Argentina, who would have been knocked out of the competition had they lost.
"The first game cost us," said Messi. "We knew that we had to win today, that another World Cup was starting for us and we knew how to do it.
"It was a tough game to pick ourselves up for because Mexico play well.
"The played the first half with intensity but the second half we relaxed and became ourselves again."
Argentina bounced back from a shocking 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in their opening game and are now second in Group C ahead of their last match against Poland on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old Messi is almost certainly playing in his last World Cup, the only major title missing from his collection.
It was his eighth World Cup finals goal — the same number scored by rival Cristiano Ronaldo and also the late Diego Maradona, the Argentina great with whom he is so often compared.
Until his goal, Messi was enduring a frustrating match, finding himself with two defenders on him each time he received the ball.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni made five changes from the Saudi Arabia game in a bid to inject some more energy into the team but they initially made little difference.
The momentum of the game changed completely after Messi's goal, his 93rd in internationals and his second of the tournament after a penalty against Saudi Arabia.