Two goals from Julian Alvarez and one from player of the match, Lionel Messi helped Argentina secure their place in the final of the 2022 FIFA world cup against Croatia in Qatar, as the latter hopes to finally lay hands on the one senior trophy that has long eluded his illustrious career.
Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and Argentina came within touching distance of winning the coveted trophy in 2014, their last appearance in the final, but they came up short against Germany courtesy of a Mario Götze 113th minute strike.
The La Albiceleste kicked off their campaign in Qatar on a bad note, losing to lowly ranked Saudi Arabia 2-1, a result that shocked the world. While many believed they would bounce back from the defeat, some wrote off Lionel Scaloni’s team and predicted their early exit.
Victories in their remaining group games against Mexico and Poland saw them top the group with six points. They also saw off the challenges of Australia and Netherlands en route to the final.
In the semi-final, Croatia were the better of the two sides in the first half, enjoying most of the possession, but it was Argentina who would take the lead after 34 minutes from the spot.
Croatia goalie, Dominik Livakovic was adjudged to have fouled Manchester City striker, Alvarez in the box, with Messi making no mistake converting the resulting penalty. Alvarez then made it 2-0 five minutes later from a counter-attack characterised by errors from the Croatian defence.
After the recess, Zlatko Dalic’s side continued to dominate the encounter, while Argentina were contented with sitting back and catching them on the counter, an approach that worked perfectly for them.
As Croatia were doing most of the playing without purpose, the Argentines were doing what mattered, scoring the goals, as Alvarez’s second goal of the night in the 64th minute all but guaranteed his side’s victory, following a wonderful assist from Messi.
Messi found little space on the left, turned his marker and wiggled his way into the Croatian box before setting up the inrushing Alvarez who slotted home past Livakovic to make it 3-0.
Messi, now 35, who is probably appearing at his last world cup will lead his team to face either defending champion, France or the tournament’s giant-killer, Morocco on Sunday, December 18, 2022 at the Lusail stadium. This is his last chance to win it all.