By scoring for Argentina in a 3-0 victory over Croatia at the Lusail Iconic Stadium to advance to the final, Lionel Messi earned himself one final chance to win the World Cup. Julian Alvarez also scored for Argentina. On Sunday, they’ll take on either France or Morocco, who are participating in Wednesday’s semifinal. After Man City forward Alvarez controversially received a penalty for colliding with Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, Messi scored the game’s first goal from the penalty spot (34) against the flow of play.
With the goal, the 35-year-old overcame Gabriel Batistuta to take the lead with 11 goals for Argentina in the World Cup finals. After conceding the first goal, Croatia crumbled, and five minutes later, Argentina scored another thanks to some laughable defending as Alvarez doubled their advantage (39), carrying the ball out of his half. To ensure that the game was beyond doubt, Messi took matters into his own hands.
He performed a moment of magic down the right to defeat Josko Gvardiol before putting the ball on the table for Alvarez to score Argentina’s third goal. Argentina hasn’t won the World Cup since Diego Maradona led his country to victory in Mexico in 1986 when they last made it to the final in Brazil in 2014 and lost to Germany.
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Messi books a date with destiny
In the first 30 minutes, Croatia dominated, and Messi mostly went unnoticed as he crossed the field at the Lusail Iconic Stadium and waited for his teammates to get going. Just after the halfway point, Alvarez earned a penalty that completely changed the course of the game. Argentina’s easy pass over the top took Croatia off guard, and Alvarez was taken down by Livakovic after pushing the ball beyond the goalkeeper. Gary Neville, a sports analyst for Sky Sports, thought the verdict was incorrect and that the goalie didn’t do much wrong.
He told ITV, “The goalkeeper just stops.” “He has to make that gesture, he roots his feet, to attempt to save the ball. I fail to see how that constitutes a fine. It can’t be a foul if I’m a defender and the striker is ready to take a shot and I move to block, he shoots, sprints past me, and into me. You must deflect the strike! Argentina took the lead after Messi converted from the penalty spot, just as he had against the Netherlands in the previous round.
Messi and Julian Alvarez fire Argentina into final
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After initially appearing to be in control, Croatia began to lose their composure and took another hit five minutes later when Alvarez carried the ball from his half and calmly finished past Livakovic to score it 2-0. Celtic right defender Possibly by accident, the ball bounced off of Josip Juranovic and back into Alvarez’s path, but Borna Sosa gave way under the pressure and let the 22-year-old get through on goal despite flailing his leg in vain.
To change the tide of the match, Croatia substituted Bruno Petkovic, who scored an extra-time equalizer in stoppage time in last week’s quarterfinal against Brazil. However, Messi had other plans. The Paris Saint-Germain forward turned the 20-year-old inside out with a mesmerizing run down the right flank before cutting it back to Alvarez from the byline, determined to give himself one more chance to win the one prize that has escaped him. Alvarez became the youngest player to score twice in a World Cup semi-final or final since Pele in 1958 when he made no errors from just outside the six-yard box.
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Messi is on a mission
Messi now has the opportunity to complete his trophy collection on Sunday with his final World Cup performance. Following the game, Messi said: “This is entertaining me. I feel fantastic and powerful enough to take on any contest. The prior game required a significant sacrifice. Although we were worn out today, we mustered the fortitude to secure the victory. We did a great job playing, and we opted to play this style as we anticipated that they wouldn’t have the ball. We anticipated having to flee. We did an excellent job of preparing. I’m having a great time at the World Cup. I can assist the squad.
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We had gone six matches without losing, so I would say the first game—the loss to Saudi Arabia—was a big blow. We didn’t anticipate losing to Saudi Arabia after a World Cup start like that. The entire squad was put to the test, but we showed how resilient we are. We prevailed in the previous games, but what we did was extremely difficult. Every game was a final, and we knew that things would get difficult for us if we lost. Argentina has a front-row genius and ten warriors. They also have the tournament’s best fans. In the competition, they developed. It is a task. One that he [Messi] is currently providing on his own.” Perhaps this is the end of the generation of the World Cups, a couple have reached an age and have to watch what happens in 2026,” said Zlatko Dalic, the head coach of Croatia.
We’ve had a terrific team, and Euro 2024 will be the culmination of this generation’s career. The National League and a stellar generation that advanced to two semifinals are both available to us. Zlatko Dalic, the head coach of Croatia, said: “Perhaps this is the generational end of the World Cups; a couple has reached an age where they must wait and see what happens in 2026. This generation will wrap out their career at Euro 2024. We had a terrific team. We have the National League and a fantastic generation that made two semi-final appearances.
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