Lionel Messi’s 35th-minute penalty shootout and a hand in the other two goals lead Argentina to a 3-0 win over Croatia in the semi-finals on Tuesday at the Lusail Stadium.
With the win, Argentina is back in the World Cup finals after losing one to Germany in 2014. It is the two-time champions Argentina’s 6th overall appearance in the finals. Also, it is Messi’s second World Cup final and might be his last appearance at the tournament.
Lionel Messi kept his World Cup-winning destiny on the course on a stormy night at the Lusail Stadium, shining in all its splendor. Messi tucked in a penalty and masterminded another two goals for Julian Alvarez and put on a nearly vintage performance to lead his country to the final.
The crowd expected the Messi moments and he gave them what they wanted. But none was as spectacular as the third goal’s assist. He was glided over by Mislav Orsic and turned over after ripping through the right and the touchline’s edge.
However, Josko Gvardiol, wearing his spidery mask, was clinging to him like a kid would a parent, denying him the time and space to move and therefore luring him away. He dragged him into the area, bringing him ever-close to the goalkeeper, before stopping and turning to get away from him before he redirected the ball toward Julian Alvarez’s path. The latter came within six yards and merely slotted in. it was as though Messi was planning to record a number of great assists during the World Cup.
Now the team is one step away from the World Cup title. A victory fashioned by the magic of Messi, who ended Argentina’s 28-year-old trophy drought with the 2021 Copa America title. They were unbeaten for the last 36 matches and came to the World Cup and lose the first match. But Argentina didn’t give up on the team after the loss to Saudi Arabia and now stands on for the finals.
It was an emotional night for the Argentina team and the worldwide fans. Lionel Scaloni, Argentina’s coach, burst out into tears again. He just walked straight to Messi and hugged him after the 3-0 semi-final win. Against Croatia.
“It is true we made it to the final but I can’t compare myself to those managers. They really made history for the national team. They gave significance to wearing this jersey. I do feel proud of playing a final and representing the national squad yet I can’t put myself on a similar level to those who have made history in world football,” the Argentina head coach said.
With 5 World Cup goals in Qatar, Messi is in front for the Golden Boot along with Kylian Mbappe. Argentina will meet France for the finals on Sunday at the Lusail Stadium.