With a dominant 3-0 semifinal victory over Croatia at Lusail Stadium, Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez led Argentina to the World Cup final.
After their heroics in 2018, Croatia wanted to reach back-to-back finals, and they were the better team in a cagey first half. However, goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic brought Alvarez down as the Manchester City striker lifted the ball over him.
In the shootout victories over Japan and Brazil, Livakovic was Serbia’s hero. However, he had no chance against Messi, who scored the winning penalty and joined Kylian Mbappe at the top of the Golden Boot scoring race.
In the 69th minute, Messi tormented Josko Gvardiol with a winding dribble before teeing up Alvarez for his fourth of the tournament. Alvarez then tenaciously bundled his way through a scattered Croatia backline on the counterattack to double the lead.
Final score of Argentina vs. Croatia: 1H 2H Final Argentina 2 1 3 Croatia 0 0 0 Goals:
ARG — Lionel Messi (34 minutes, pen) ARG — Julian Alvarez (39 minutes, 69 minutes) MORE: FuboTV (U.S.-only free trial) allows you to watch every World Cup match live. Messi has scored five goals and is now Argentina’s all-time leading World Cup goal scorer, surpassing Gabriel Batistuta. After that, he will have one more chance to win the famous gold trophy like his fellow great Diego Maradona.
Luka Modric orchestrated a composed opening for Croatia on Tuesday, despite the fact that their lack of cutting edge was ultimately exposed in comparison to Argentina’s lethal front two. Another all-time great was plotting another route to glory on the field.
Alvarez was mistakenly played onside by Dejan Lovren, and Livakovic took him out as he prodded toward the goal. Messi hasn’t always been good at taking penalties, but he was able to score his 11th World Cup goal with a precise strike at the right time.
The second goal was born on the fields in Calchin, Cordoba, whereas the first goal was the result of hours spent practicing on luxurious training grounds. After Marcelo Brozovic’s cross from a short corner was stopped, Alvarez gained possession on the halfway line. Alvarez battled on to go it alone, overcoming challenges from Josip Juranovic and Borna Sosa to finish after Nahuel Molina’s storming run down the outside confused Croatia.
After exchanging passes with Enzo Fernandez and drawing a fine stop from Livakovic at his near post, Messi almost scored his second goal, but he pulled off one more trick to give Alvarez a second goal that was much simpler than his first.
Due to his performance in this tournament, transfer rumors have placed a £100 million ($123 million) price tag on him. In any case, he ended up swindled as Messi beat him, returned and twirled around him again to leave an opportunity on a plate for Alvarez. The great man is waiting for the end.
MORE: Julian Alvarez, who is he? A big performance from an Argentine forward in the World Cup semifinals:
Argentina (from left to right): 23. 26 for E. Martinez (GK). 13 Molina Romero, age 19 Otamendi, 3. 7. Tagliafico 24 De Paul 5. E. Fernandez 20 Paredes 9. Mac Allister 10 Alvarez Croatia’s Messi lineup is 4-3-3, from right to left: 1. 22 for Livakovic (GK). 6. Juranovic Lovren, age 20 19. Gvardiol Sosa — 10. Modric, 11. 8. Brozovic Kovacic — 13. 9. Pasalic Kramaric, 4. Perisic
Argentina versus Croatia as it worked out, features from 2022 World Cup
All day: During the Messi era, Argentina were a bit of a mess in World Cup knockout games, but that was their most dominant and effective performance, more so than anything they did to reach the 2014 final. Yet again there are personal scenes of festivity at all day. On Sunday, either France or Morocco will return to Lusail Stadium for a meeting with fate.
Minute 90: There will be injury time for five minutes. The Argentina bench is all set for a celebration.
Minute 86: Nahuel Molina and Alexis Mac Allister have been replaced by Juan Foyth and Angel Correa. Boys, it’s time to rest up for the most important game of your lives.
85th moment: From Croatia, not far. Ivan Perisic looks at the near post from a corner. Dejan Lovren and Nicolas Otamendi are having a little fight, so he can’t get the final punch.
Minute 83: Nearly four, and Alexis Mac Allister’s hard work had earned her a goal. Paulo Dybala passes Messi’s quick free kick to the Brighton midfielder, who volleys wide.
Minute 81: Luka Modric frees up space. Leaves the stage as one of the great World Cup midfielders and best players of the 21st century. He couldn’t do any more magic tonight, but he was up against the best. Lovro Majer joins the battle.
Minute 80: Of the two all-time greats on the field this evening, Luka Modric will be the failure. He fires a shot that Alexis Mac Allister stops. The great man is hit in the face with the ricochet. 73rd minute: When it’s not your night Nicolas Otamendi has been booked for a silly tackle, so everyone is putting on their party hats right now. Give it all a chance. In preparation for the championship match, Julian Alvarez and Rodrigo De Paul retire. Exequiel Palacios and the fit again Paulo Dybala are both on the field. Lionel Scaloni appears to have flexed a little bit by releasing the latter at this point.
Minute 69: GOOOOAAAAALLLL!!!!! !!!!! Julian Alvarez
People are putting hefty price tags on Josko Gvardiol because of his performance at the World Cup. Before passing the ball to Alvarez at the plate, Messi has just made him look like a complete novice with an astonishing pirouetting dribble. It’s pure magic. The final is just around the corner for Messi and his merry band.