WC 2022: Messi magic leads Argentina to their 5th World Cup final ever

(Football news) Lionel Messi put on a show as he helped Argentina secure a spot in the World Cup final with a 3-0 victory over Croatia on Tuesday. Messi started off the party in Rosario as he opened the scoring with a powerful penalty on the 34th minute to become Argentina’s all-time leading goal scorer at World Cup finals and shortly after Alvarez grit and determination completed a direct solo run through the heart of the Croatia defence before tapping home to give Argentina a comfortable lead before half-time.

Alvarez then in the second half added the side’s third, thanks to a signature run from Messi who used his skill and change of speed to guide past Josko Gvardiol before cutting the ball back to Alvarez for an easy finish. Argentina have won the World Cup in 1978 and 1986 as they advance to Sunday’s final where they will face either France or Morocco. Croatia finished runners up in Russia four years ago, and exited the competition after putting together another shock run to the semifinals as Luka Modric bid adieu to the biggest stage of all.

Messi’s inclusion in the starting lineup meant he drew level with Germany’s former captain Lothar Matthaeus as the joint record holder for most World Cup appearances with 25 games under his belt and will go past that record on Sunday in the final. Croatia at the start dominated possession as they had done against Brazil in their quarterfinal, and distributed the ball well but struggled to find a way into the Argentina box. La Albiceleste took the lead when Alvarez was brought down by Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic in the box for a penalty, with Messi emphatically converting the penalty.

Alvarez, who probably played his best football was again involved when he picked up a Messi pass in his own half, sprinted 50 metres and weaved his way into the Croatia box, after two lucky bounces and some sloppy defending, before he tapped in the second goal. Livakovic, who has been their player of the tournament as he had carried Croatia into the semifinals with saves in their penalty shootout wins against Japan and Brazil, did well to stop an Alexis Mac Allister header at half-time as the Brighton man could have killed off the game after 45 minutes.

However, unlike their extra-time comeback against Brazil, there was no way back this time for Croatia. Argentina got Lisandro Martinez as they were in no mood to squander their two-goal advantage like they did against the Netherlands in the last eight. But thanks Alvarez who dashed any lingering Croatia hopes in the 69th, when he tapped in a cutback after Messi tricked his way past defender Gvardiol on the right wing to pick out his teammate in the box who calmly sealed Croatia’s tournament exit.

“Throughout the World Cup it has been incredible what we have experienced. We are going to play the final which is what we wanted,” Messi said. “I don’t know if it’s my best World Cup, it’s been a long time I’ve been enjoying. This team is crazy. We are going to play one more final, we are going to enjoy all of this.

“We have gone through some tough situations, some very good ones,” Messi added. “Today we are experiencing something spectacular. “I’m enjoying it with all these people and with all the Argentinians who are in our country. I imagine it must be crazy.”



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