‘The power, the accuracy… it’s WONDERFUL’: Gary Neville says Lionel Messi’s ‘precision’ is what sets him apart after his superb strike for Argentina against Mexico – but Roy Keane claims he was ‘very average’
Lionel Messi has been praised by Gary Neville after his goal in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Mexico – but fellow pundit Roy Keane said the superstar looked ‘very average’.
Messi, 35, scored Argentina’s opener in the second half, before Enzo Fernandez sealed the points three minutes from time.
In the moments following the result, the former Republic of Ireland international Keane revealed that he was not seeing the superstar performance we’re used to seeing from the PSG star.
Lionel Messi scored the opening goal in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Mexico on Saturday
Roy Keane revealed he felt it was an ‘average’ performance from the 35-year-old Argentina star
Roy Keane told ITV1: ‘It’s what all these great players do, it’s about moments, his first touch, brilliant finish. Other than that very average. Two goals in two games, you can’t write these players off.
‘To be fair to Argentina they turned it around and found a way to win the game. Two bits of quality they got the job done and will be feeling a lot better tonight.’
However, Neville had nothing but praise to offer Messi after his 64th minute goal, when he took possession of a pass 25 yards out and struck a fierce shot into the bottom of the Mexican goal.
Neville said: ‘It’s a finish we have seen so many times from him, the thing that separates these great players is the precision in their finish. Messi to be fair, it’s moments now, he gets that space, stands still. The power, the accuracy is wonderful.’
Keane questioned Mexico’s play in the run-up to the goal, claiming: ‘The midfielder had a breather at the wrong time.’
ITV’s third pundit, Joe Cole, was also one to praise the PSG star. Cole said: ‘He’s almost counter-intuitive. He walks around, I’m watching him, he walks into positions, you switch off, any other player in this competition doesn’t punish you but the touch and strike is outstanding.’
Gary Neville was extremely positive about Messi’s positional work for the opening goal
About Fernandez’s second goal, where he ran into the box far left, and curled a shot into the opposite corner, Cole added: ‘He’s perfect for this team as a box-to-box player. He can finish and score goals, he has a lovely strike on him. That is an outstanding strike, whipped.’
Keane said: ‘That may be one of their first short corners. There you go, quality.’
Neville added: ‘I liked it when they went five at the back and all of a sudden looked a lot more aggressive. They built a solid foundation and that’s how they will have to do it to win this tournament.’
Enzo Fernandez scored Argentina’s second goal to secure all three points at Lusail Stadium
Keane hailed the changes made by Lionel Scaloni as Argentina tried to maintain their hold on the game. The Irishman said: ‘The subs brought energy and quality and that momentum. After the first goal they were never losing that game.’
Argentina have kept their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive, with Group C a very open competition following Poland’s win over Saudi Arabia.
Messi and company face Poland in their final group match, knowing a loss will see them eliminated, and a win will secure their spot in the last-16.