Powerhouses Argentina and the Netherlands set up a rollicking FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter-final clash following victories over Australia and the US, respectively, in the Round of 16 Saturday.
The two teams will vie for a spot in the last four at Lusail Stadium on December 9.
In the second of the two Round of 16 matches Saturday, Lionel Messi scored on his 1,000th career appearance in Argentina's 2-1 win over Australia to surpass his great predecessor Diego Maradona's tournament total.
Seeking a first World Cup at his fifth attempt, the mesmerising Messi curled the ball low past goalkeeper Mat Ryan from inside the area in the 35th minute to send the legions of Argentine fans into delirium at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium.
Julian Alvarez bagged Argentina's second from close range in the 57th minute after fatal hesitation from Ryan with the ball at his feet following a backpass.
Australia, who did superbly to reach the last 16 and are ranked 35 places below the double World Cup winners, defended valiantly with the towering Harry Souttar prominent. They set up a nervy end after Craig Goodwin's shot was deflected into the net off Enzo Fernandez for an own goal in the 77th minute.
The 35-year-old Messi's goal was his third in the Qatar tournament and his ninth at World Cups, one more than Maradona.
Earlier, the Netherlands' full-backs proved the difference as veteran Daley Blind and hard-running Denzel Dumfries turned in decisive performances at Khalifa International Stadium to help secure a 3-1 win over the US in Saturday's opening match of the World Cup knockout stages.
Dumfries netted and had two assists while Blind scored, too, as the Dutch saw off a brief spell of US resistance to ensure the victory.
Striker Memphis Depay got the first goal as the Netherlands advanced to a seventh World Cup quarter-final.
A comfortable 2-0 halftime lead was halved in the 76th minute as the Americans finally made a breakthrough, even if scorer Haji Wright seemed to know little about the ball hitting his heel and then looping into the corner of the net.
However, any hopes they had of staging a comeback were ended five minutes later as Dumfries sealed his man-of-the-match performance by ghosting in at the back post and side-footing a volley into the net to restore the two-goal advantage.
The Dutch deserved the win but again there will be questions about whether they are serious World Cup contenders - something coach Louis van Gaal keeps insisting they are, although he was quick to admit Saturday's showing could have been a lot better.
"We also lost a lot of ball possession, and it is not acceptable at a World Cup, especially if you are playing a top-level team,” he said.
Van Gaal's side did, though, offer some glimpses of classy potential, no more so than with a series of 20 passes that set up their 10th minute opener - finished off by Depay smartly hitting home a cut-back pass from Dumfries.
Lionel Messi celebrates after the match against Australia.
The Netherlands' Denzel Dumfries celebrates scoring their third goal against the US.
The Netherlands' Teun Koopmeiners, Daley Blind, Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay celebrate after the match against the US.