- BBC News World
The kid’s dream has come true for Lionel Messi and 45 million albiceleste hearts: Argentina is three-time world champion after beating France on penalties in the Qatar 2022 final.
It is the tenth World Cup that goes to a South American team after the five won by Brazil, the two by Uruguay and the other two that Argentina already collected.
The first goal of the final -which some commentators say has been “best of all time”– was marked by Lionel Messi after taking a penalty following a foul committed in the area by Ángel Di María.
It was him fifth penalty called against Argentina in is world Cup and sets a new record for shots from 11 meters awarded to a team in the same tournament.
The second goal came after a counterattack between Lionel Messi and Alexis Mac Callister, which ended brilliantly Angel di Maria in the 36th minute of the first time.
Everything seemed aimed at Argentina being crowned world champion in the 90 minutes. But France was not going to let him go so easily.
In minute 80 the Frenchmen finally reacted and Kylian Mbappé scored the 2-1 penalty.
That unbalanced Argentina, which had been monolithic, and just two minutes later, again Mbappé, after a collective play, scored with a volley to tie 2-2.
Then the game went to extra time.
And when the second half of the extension was fulfilled, Lionel Messi managed to introduce the ball and score the third for Argentina.
But the game was not over.
Mbappé would tie 3-3 a few minutes after a penalty.
in the batch Luck fell on the side of the Argentines. The “Dibu” Martínez covered a penalty to Coman and Tchouameni threw his wide.
Deservedly Martinez received the award for best goalkeeper of this World Cup.
Enzo Fernández was named the best junior and Lionel Messi best player of the tournament.
The game started with nerves on both sides.
Fouls by France. Erratic attempts by Argentina.
However, the first chances came from the albiceleste players. At minute 7, Rodrigo de Paul shot on goal and Varane deflected it very close to the goal protected by Hugo Lloris.
Argentina continued with the serious intention of dominating and, above all, that Messi began to take the axis of the game.
In this way they were able to arrive on several occasions. The clearest through Ángel Di María, after 15 minutes.
Shortly after, Dembelé brought down Di María in the area and in the 23rd minute Messi scored the penalty with a strong, tight shot.
France tried to react, but the albiceleste shirt seemed to have multiplied on the field. They didn’t look like eleven players but 22.
And then Di María’s goal arrived. And the thousands of Argentines present at the Lusail stadium erupted with joy.
And the Argentine control was such that, in an unusual event, the French coach made two changes before the end of the first half to see if he could recover at least part of the game.
The second half began almost in the same vein as the first half: Argentina taking over all the spaces and France unable to shake off the control of the albiceleste.
Rosario’s connection, between Ángel di María and Lionel Messi, continued to cause problems in the defense of “Les Bleus”.
And France was so outmatched that they even had to replace their best player in this World Cup, Antoine Griezmann, to find some attacking alternative.
The physical issue has been present in the news that came from the French concentration, in which several players would have been affected by a respiratory virus.
But the reaction of France and Mbappé arrived in just two minutes managed to score two goals, one from a penalty and another in a collective play that ended brilliantly.
Regulation time ended and the champion would be defined in extra time or on penalties.
The extra time began with Argentina trying to regain control of the match.
However, the physique that he had in excess of before now seemed to be lacking and Argentina had a hard time finding their way back to Lloris’s goal.
The albiceleste put oxygen in her tank and put Lautaro Martínez and Leandro Paredes on the field.
Messi put Argentina ahead in extra time and again Mbappé scored the equalizer from a penalty
And that’s how they went to penalties. With an “immense Drawing” Argentina prevailed 4-2 and the golden dream of the title it came true.
How did Argentina get here?
This unforgettable campaign began with a game to forget.
The albiceleste faced Saudi Arabia for the first match of group C and a match that seemed accessible on paper ended with the victory of the Arab team.
Although a Lionel Messi penalty goal in the first half seemed to set things right, the truth is that in less than ten minutes the Saudis managed to take the lead with goals from Salem Aldawsari and Saleh Alshehri.
2-1 and the dream of the title began with a nightmare.
The ghosts of an early elimination, as had occurred in Korea and Japan in 2002, where a star-studded Argentina team that was favorites to win the title fell out in the group stage, began to haunt the players and the fans.
And that was noticed in the second game against Mexico. Scaloni made five changes with respect to the starting lineup that he had proposed against the Saudis, among which two stood out: Julián Álvarez, the young star of Manchester City, and Alexis Mac Allister, former Boca Juniors and now at English Brighton.
The first half against “El Tri” Argentina was a bundle of nerves. The team couldn’t really find their way to Guillermo Ochoa’s goal.
Until Lionel Messi made his first stellar appearance and in the 19th minute of the second half he invented a space that did not exist in front of the rival area and sent a cross with his left foot that Ochoa could not reach.
Goal. And a sigh of relief was exhaled by more than 40 million Argentines.
With control of the game, the albiceleste tried to return to their origins that had led them to be champion of America and have been undefeated in more than 30 games.
That was noticed. So much so that with five minutes remaining, Enzo Fernández, from Benfica of Portugal, picked up a ball to the left of the area and with a superb ball he sent it to Ochoa.
2-0 and the nights of terror of the previous days dissipated.
And against Poland, the matter was resolved more easily: as soon as the second half began, Mac Allister scored the first and after a few minutes, Álvarez nailed the second to guarantee passage to the round of 16 and banish the ghost of 2002 forever.
The rival in the round of 16 was Australia, which had surprised everyone by eliminating Denmark in group D.
And the game was nothing more than a path of rocks and strong winds in which it was necessary to appeal to all the available maps to be able to overcome that obstacle.
And what player could do that more easily? Yes, Lionel Messi. The player who has all the maps and GPS of the soccer world.
The route that nobody had appeared to him in the 35th minute and with a left-footed shot he left the Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan unanswered.
1-0 and the Argentines already saw the Netherlands appear on the horizon of the quarterfinals.
Matter that was closed when Julián Álvarez and Rodrigo de Paul stole a ball from the goalkeeper and Álvarez scored the second of the match.
The next match brought its own ingredients: the last time the two teams had met was in Brazil 2014, in a semifinal, in which Argentina beat the Dutch on penalties.
But the Dutch also had another memory: in France 98, precisely in the quarterfinals, they they had been the executioners of Argentina.
And it was not an easy match. Messi assisted Nahuel Molina to make the game 1-0 and minutes later, Leo himself converted a penalty to make things 2-0.
But in the final minutes, the Dutch decided to fight back and tied the game thanks to goals from Denzel Dumfries and Wout Weghorst.
To penalties. And there Argentina was again the one of 2014 and returned to a semifinal.
And went a semifinal against Croatia not so suffered like the previous ones. In just 39 minutes, Messi from a penalty and Álvarez after a wild run put the game 2-0.
So Messi wanted to settle forever in the retina not only of Argentines, but of Croatians, Qataris, the whole world: in a cosmic move he took Joško Gvardiol, the Croatian wonder, and gave him the final pass to Álvarez who sentenced the semifinal.
And he gave the ticket to the dream of the title that became a reality this Sunday.
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