In another penalty thriller, Argentina, led by preparer and goalscorer Lionel Messi, trembled into the semi-finals of the World Cup.

The South Americans beat the Netherlands 4-3 on penalties in the top eight on Friday night thanks to goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

After 120 minutes it was 2: 2 (2: 2, 1: 0) in a heated match with pack formation and more than ten yellow cards.

The former Wolfsburg player Wout Weghorst had made the two-time world champion tremble with two goals.

In front of 88,235 spectators in Lusail, Messi and Co. looked like the sure winners until just before the end of regular time against coach Louis van Gaal's weak Netherlands.

Messi prepared the lead with a stroke of genius in his 1001st professional game when he put the ball in front of Nahuel Molina (35th minute).

He scored the second goal himself with a penalty kick (73').

But Weghorst saved Oranje with his goals in the 83rd minute and the eleventh minute of added time.

Nothing happened there anymore.

It went to penalties where Martinez saved against Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk and Steven Berghuis.

Lautaro Martinez converted the decisive penalty.

A few hours after Brazil's penalty knockout with Messi's PSG club colleague and friend Neymar, coach Lionel Scaloni's team underlined their ambitions for the world title against the Dutch, who had been unbeaten in 19 games under van Gaal.

On Tuesday (8:00 p.m. CET, in the FAZ live ticker for the soccer World Cup and on MagentaTV) it is up against Brazil-conqueror Croatia to reach the final.

Messi's stroke of genius

Eyes closed for a moment, Messi fervently sang the anthem, which was joined by tens of thousands in Argentinian jerseys in the stands.

Of course, the experienced coach did not reveal how van Gaal wanted to stop Messi.

In any case, the Dutch did not deviate from their style of play, which was designed more for effectiveness than attractiveness and left the action to the South Americans.

The important wingman Ángel di María was missing from the starting lineup, just like in the round of 16 against the Australians.

But even if the Dutch, like everyone else, preached beforehand that they would not play against Messi but against Argentina, he taught them better with the provisional climax after a good half hour.

First he puts on Rodrigo de Paul.

The midfield clearer and booster was able to play after worrying reports about his fitness.

But his shot was too weak.

Immediately afterwards, Messi's brilliant assist left a perplexed van Gaal on the Dutch bench.

With a brief body trick he duped Nathan Aké about 30 meters in front of the goal, ran on with the ball at his foot, looked ahead, but without looking, played steeply and precisely to Molina, who didn't give Andries Noppert a chance when he fell with his outside instep.

Messi raised his fist and laughed at the audience - Messi experienced the World Cup in brilliant form.

Whatever van Gaal came up with, it didn't work at all for a long time.

Only a little later Messi danced out Aké again, the shot with the weaker right foot did not cause any problems for Noppert.

The Argentines had not once been able to beat the Dutch in regular time in the four previous World Cup duels. They won the final in extra time at home in 1978, and the South Americans prevailed on penalties in the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil .

The Dutch were now challenged.

Van Gaal made the switch, brought in two fresh players – but now played even more defensively on paper.

The South Americans initially fell back a little more, but the van Gaal protégés weren't really able to use that at first.

And every time Messi got the ball in his 24th World Cup game, in which he drew level with Miroslav Klose and is only one behind record holder Lothar Matthäus, it got dangerous and loud in the stadium anyway.

A free kick after a good hour after a foul on himself swept over the goal net.

He aimed more precisely at the penalty kick.

It was his tenth World Cup goal, drawing level with Argentina's World Cup record scorer Gabriel Batistuta.

Weghorst's goal then burst into the constant song of the Argentine fans.

There were anxious and heated minutes.

Pack formation, a red-worthy body check by van Dijk, and then ten minutes of stoppage time.

The goal to make it 2-2 came in the eleventh minute of added time after an unnecessary foul by the Argentines.

Instead of shooting over the wall, substitute Teun Koopmeiners passed Weghorst and he scored again.

This time to equalize: the goalless extra time was followed by penalties - with the better end for the Albiceleste.