- BBC News World
Qatar 2022 was surrendered at the feet of Lionel Messi.
The Argentine star scored his 11th goal in mundials (a new personal record), put in a dream assist that ended in a great goal and led Argentina to a 3-0 victory over Croatia on Tuesday in the first semifinal of the World Cup.
Julian Alvarezscored the other two goals in a game where Croatiawho came with the spirit in heaven after eliminating Brazil in the quarterfinals, had no choice clear the Gol.
The table was set for the Albiceleste to seek the longed-for third World Cup in the final dnext December 18 against the winner of France against Morocco.
Messi surpassed Gabriel Batistuta as the Albiceleste top scorer in mundials with 11 goals.
Also added his partynumber 25 in worldequaling the German Lothar Matthäus as the footballers with the most games played in the World Cups.
The “Scaloneta” at full speed
At the most appropriate moment, the machinery of the “Scaloneta” is at its best.
At the start of the match, Argentina gave up control of the ball in the first 20 minutes. The Croatian team set a leisurely tone on offense, without risking much, but with Luka Modrić opening options up front.
Lionel Scaloni little by little sent the “Scaloneta” forward. The first danger for the Albiceleste came at 24′, in a shot from Enzo Fernandez from outside the box that Dominik Livaković deflected just in time.
In the stands of the Lusail stadium, the Argentine fans felt at home, being the majority and singing songs with one voice. But soon the most awaited cry would come.
Julian Alvarez He was hand in hand in front of the Croatian goalkeeper, who collided with him in the area and the referee interpreted that it was a penalty.
Who to collect it? Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini put the ball in the back of the net at minute 34, against a great penalty saver like Livaković.
The Croats lost their way and an error in a corner kick in their favor paid dearly.
Argentina recovered the ball in their own area and Julián Álvarez launched with everything in front, more than 50 meters of career until the Croatian defense lukewarmly tried to steal the ball. Sosa failed to clear and the ball ended up at the feet of Álvarez, who only had to push it (39′).
A lightning strike that left Croatia struck down, which finished the first half with 62% possession, but zero shots at the goal of Emiliano “Dibu” Martínez.
Croatia went to the front in the second half, leaving open spaces on their ground. Argentina was looking to take advantage of that, as when Messi was about to convert the third in a shot from the left that Livaković contained with a masterful save.
It was felt that Argentina could liquidate the game, it seemed a matter of time, but Messi wanted it to be magical.
After a simple throw-in, Messi took the ball in midfield, advanced and advanced, emulating Diego Maradona in 1986, made Joško Gvardio dance until entering the area and he handed it over to Julián Álvarez so that he could finish off a full goal at 69′.
It was the three to zero that ended a game in which Croatia was never close to converting.
The best World Cup of the Argentine 10which gave away one of those dream matches.
Argentina will face on Sunday the winner of the semifinal between France and Morocco on Wednesday.
The game that will see if Messi achieves the dream of being world champion and crowning a career in which he has won everything.
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