Lionel Messi (L) celebrates after scoring against Australia© Twitter
It took Argentina legend Lionel Messi just less than two minutes to score a brilliant goal during the friendly match against Australia in Beijing on Thursday. The stadium was packed with fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the World Cup-winning superstar and they were thrilled to see Messi hand Argentina the lead at the very start of the match. Messi received the ball outside the Australian box and went post a defender easily before unleashing a lethal shot at goal. Australia goalkeeper Matt Ryan did not have much of a chance as the ball crashed into the net prompting massive cheers.
Messi mania gripped Beijing ahead of a sell-out friendly in the Chinese capital.
LEO MESSI. WHAT A GOAL!
INSIDE TWO MINUTES 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/etyJibEwCc
— Sara (@SaraFCBi) June 15, 2023
Hundreds of Chinese fans waving Argentinian flags and wearing Messi jerseys massed outside the team’s luxury hotel ever since their idol touched down on Saturday.
Crowds lined heavily guarded streets hoping to catch a glimpse of the 35-year-old each time the team go for training.
The man himself has kept a low profile, but that has done little to dampen enthusiasm.
One daring fan recounted his tale of spending the night inside the Four Seasons hotel in a bid to get a close encounter with Messi and his teammates.
“I first hid in the janitor’s closet, then went up to the team’s floor through the fire escape staircase,” the man, surnamed Lin, told AFP.
He was questioned by hotel security before being released.
Another fan, Li Weihua, said that he had flown from his home city of Shenzhen in southern China, heading straight to the hotel.
He does not even have a ticket for the match at the 68,000-capacity Workers’ Stadium, which was quickly sold out.
“I just want to feel the environment,” said the 29-year-old, who had never been to Beijing before now.
(With AFP inputs)
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