For all of his accomplishments, and there are many, there was one thing Lionel Messi had never done at the World Cup: score a goal in an elimination game.

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Now that he has done so — his first-half shot helped carry Argentina to a 2-1 victory over Australia on Saturday night — he still has a chance at another first: Messi has never lifted the World Cup trophy.

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A championship, of course, is still a ways away. But squint your eyes as Messi darted through the Australian defense at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Saturday night and it still seems possible.

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For 90 minutes, Messi, 35, looked like the Messi who made his World Cup debut at 18 and has torn through club opponents across Europe for decades.

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With the win, Argentina advanced to the quarterfinals, where it will face the Netherlands on Friday

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A potential matchup with Brazil looms after that, and maybe one with France or Spain or England if Argentina (along with one of those other teams) can reach the final.

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Messi hopes his last act on the World Cup stage comes after he clears several more immediate hurdles.

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So much about this era of Argentina’s World Cup history has revolved around Messi, the generational forward who, on Saturday, made his 1,000th appearance for club and country.

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