a creative Argentina defeated Croatia 3-0 on Tuesday to advance to its second World Cup final in eight years with to goals from Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez. Messi converted a penalty and Alvarez netted two goals.
Messi, 35, who lost to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, is keen to cap off an incredible career by helping Argentina win its third World Cup, following triumphs in 1978 and 1986.
Additionally, he ensured the victory by superbly setting up the third goal after setting his team on the path to victory with a perfectly executed first-half penalty.
Argentina is once again in a World Cup final, Messi said after celebrating in front of the throngs of South American fans who have travelled to Qatar. “It’s crazy, we did it, we did it, we’re going to play one more final, once again Argentina is in a World Cup final,” Messi added.
“What we have seen is amazing, seeing all these individuals and this family during the World Cup. We’re aiming for the win in the final game, just like we wanted, “Added he.
After finishing second in Russia four years ago, Croatia paid the price for some shoddy defending by exiting the tournament in the quarterfinals once more, following their defeat by France in 1998.
“The game was lost by us. Regarding the guys, I have nothing to bemoan. Throughout the entire competition, they gave it their all. It is a well-deserved loss, “said Zlatko Dalic, a coach.
Enzo Fernandez’s low pot attempt from beyond the box in the 25th minute was the game’s first indication of life, but Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic did well to reach over and block it.
It was a close match until Fernandez lofted a straightforward ball over the top, which the Croatian defence couldn’t handle. Alvarez pounced on it and knocked the ball past the charging Livakovic, who then collided with the striker, and Italian referee Daniele Orsato pointed to the spot.
As a result of the Croats’ protests, both on the pitch and on the bench, Mario Mandzukic, the assistant coach, was sent off.
- Livakovic had a good estimate regarding the score, but his dive was ineffective because Messi’s well executed drive went high into the net to give his team a 1-0 lead in the 34th minute.
With his fifth goal of the competition, Messi is now tied for the lead with Kylian Mbappe of France in scoring. He surpassed Gabriel Batistuta to become Argentina’s all-time leading scorer in the World Cup with his 11th career goal, which came in a record-equaling 25th World Cup appearance.
Five minutes later, Argentina extended their advantage when Alvarez began a lengthy goal-bound dribble after receiving Messi’s first-time pass inside his own half following a break from a corner.
Alvarez overcame feeble challenges from Josip Juranovic and Borna Sosa as the Croatian defence retreated, slipped the ball past Livakovic, and enraged the boisterous Argentine audience.
Then, Alexis Mac Allister came dangerously near with an angled header from a corner, forcing Livakovic to make a fantastic save to prevent a third.
Before the interval, Croatia’s only attempt at retaliation was a low cross-shot by Juranovic, to which Emiliano Martinez responded skillfully.
The 20-year-old defender Josko Gvardial was tortured by Messi down the right, but he left his best for last. Messi twisted and turned to leave the defender behind and then pulled the ball back to the cool-headed Alvarez, who calmly buried his fourth goal of the competition.
The 37-year-old playmaker Luka Modric, who had been so important to Croatia’s success in the previous two competitions, received cheers as he was substituted nine minutes from the finish of what was undoubtedly his final campaign.
“We regret not being able to play in another championship. It didn’t take place. The only thing left to do is to congratulate Argentina “Modric questioned the decision to award the penalty that altered the game’s outcome.
All that’s left for Modric and Croatia is the third-place game, but Argentina, Alvarez, and Messi may still win the major prize.
They are peaking just in time for the most important game of their lives thanks to a double attacking threat, the squad’s growing confidence, and Messi in great form.