Lionel Messi gave himself one last shot at World Cup glory as he and Julian Alvarez scored for Argentina in a 3-0 win over Croatia at the Lusail Iconic Stadium to reach the final.
The dream is still on for Lionel Messi, as his inspirational display against Croatia fired Argentina to the World Cup final. Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot but saved his best for the third goal, as he twisted and turned past Josko Gvardiol before setting up Julian Alvarez for a simple tap-in. France or Morocco await the Albiceleste in Sunday’s mouthwatering final.
Messi equalled Diego Maradona’s record of eight World Cup assists for Argentina, while this was his 25th World Cup appearance – matching the record of Germany legend Lothar Matthaus.
6 – Argentina have reached the World Cup final for the sixth time, doing so in two of the last three editions of the competition (also in 2014) – only Germany (8) have reached more finals in the competition than Argentina (6 – level with Italy and Brazil). Journey. pic.twitter.com/pyTTtKeweU
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 13, 2022
The 35-year-old will now captain his country against France or Morocco in Sunday’s final as Argentina look to become world champions for the first time since the Maradona-inspired campaign of 1986, and the third time overall.
Speaking after the match, Messi said: “I am enjoying this a lot. I am feeling really good, I feel strong enough to face every match. The previous match was a big sacrifice.
“Today we were tired, but we pulled out strength to earn the victory. We played very well, we preferred to play this way because we knew they would not have the ball. We knew we would have to run. We prepared in a very good way.
“I feel very happy in this World Cup. I am able to help the squad.”
He added: “I would say the first match [the defeat against Saudi Arabia] was a hard blow because we had been unbeaten in six matches. To start in such a way in a World Cup, we did not think we would lose to Saudi Arabia.
“It was an acid test of the whole squad but we proved how strong we are. We won the other matches and it was very difficult what we did. Every match was a final and we were aware if we did not win things would be complicated for us.