They danced and jumped and sang fervently, in the dressing room of the Argentines there was pure relief after the redeeming and liberating victory in the atmospheric first Latin America summit of this World Cup.
"Because it's up to us again," said Lionel Messi. He was a long time coming at the nightly press conference after his Man of the Match freestyle. His 167th international match, his 21st World Cup game with the 93rd international match and the 8th World Cup goal - a special game.
Argentine soccer legend
One with the cessation of the World Cup stamps of Diego Armando Maradona, the Argentine football legend who died at just 60 two years and a day before his footballing heirs were redeemed by victory. But above all one in which Messi scored again and led the team to success.
A victory full of emotion at the Lusail stadium in Qatar. "The family suffers, the friends suffer," said coach Lionel Scaloni after the 2-0 win over Mexico. Of assistant Pablo Aimar, with whom Messi once played at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, there were even pictures circulating that showed him sobbing on the bench after the 1-0 lead. "It's very emotional to see the boys play," said Scalonni, also a former professional and national player in the football-crazy and proud country.
"Argentina has woken up," wrote the newspaper Pagina12. "Vamos Argentina!" It was said in "Olé". "Vamos!" Messi shouted at the raging fans after his goal in the 64th minute.
Rarely has the now 35-year-old appeared so liberated as he did late Saturday night in Lusail, just four days after he slouched across the pitch with his head and shoulders hunched after the 2-1 disgrace against Saudi Arabia, and all of it early end threatened at his last world championship.
Announcement to Poland
That hasn't been averted yet, but before the showdown with world footballer Robert Lewandowski and his Poles next Wednesday, Messi makes a clear statement: "We knew that we had to win today, that another world cup would start for us, and we did managed." They would do things differently against Poland, Messi stressed after the mandatory win against Mexico.
The fact that the Argentinians celebrated a 2-0 win (against the former Soviet Union) after their last World Cup defeat in 1990 (0-1 against Cameroon) on Tuesday is probably a coincidence. The fact that Maradona's team at the time made it back to the final in Italy four years after winning the title from Mexico should at least not be a bad omen - not counting the defeat in the final against Germany with a crying Maradona.
"We know that we have taken an important step, but we are aware that another must follow in order to reach the first goal," said Messi. If Argentina also wins against Poland (4 points) on Wednesday, the South Americans are in the round of 16. In the event of a draw, they depend on the outcome of the game between Saudi Arabia (3) and Mexico (1).
Party after victory
But first they had to celebrate the victory against the Mexicans. The only 21-year-old Enzo Fernández had finally started the midnight party with his goal shortly before the end to make it 2-0. They danced and jumped on the benches, on the floor, on the table and intoned Messi's favorite fan chant, including the line: "I want to win the third (title), I want to be world champion."
And Messi also makes the Maestro. As on the field in front of the fans, he kept raising his arms. The days were long after the defeat against the Saudis, the first for the Argentines after 36 games unbeaten. Messi and his team-mates were also able to spend time with their families on the Qatar University campus afterwards. It helped too. And after the victory on Saturday, Messi immediately got a very special message in the hour of relief from his wife Antonela Roccuzzo, who suffered, cheered and celebrated with their three sons in the stadium. "How I love you," she wrote on Instagram Story for the picture of Messi, number 10, running with his arms outstretched towards the cheering fans after his goal. You love him too.