Argentina have secured their place in the World Cup final following a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Croatia at the Lusali iconic stadium.
Croatia, finalists from four years ago came into this game on the back of a gritty penalty shootout victory against Brazil. They had gained the reputation of being specialists in taking knockout matches deep with eight of their last nine in major tournaments going to extra-time. However, Argentina made sure this matchup didn’t get that far.
Croatia kept the game competitive in the first 30 minutes but just after that, the turning point came. Enzo Fernández played Julian Álvarez through on goal with a pass that caught the Croatian defence unawares and the Manchester City forward collided with an onrushing Dominik Livaković, resulting in an Argentina penalty. Lionel Messi took the penalty, rifling it into the top-right corner, to become the outright leading goalscorer for his nation in WC history.
The second goal came shortly after that as Argentina broke on a counter attack after a Croatian corner. Alvarez picked the ball on the halfway line and ran all the way to the opposition box, a couple of lucky deflections later and he was poking the ball into the goal.
Alvarez added his second of the day and Argentina’s third after a classic Messi run, tricking the defence and cutting the ball back to the striker in the box. The goal, his fourth of the tournament was the nail in the Croatian coffin.
The Albiceleste won the World Cup twice in their history, once in 1978 and then again in 1986 being the great Diego Maradona. They now await one of France or Morocco for a chance for their third trophy. For Messi, his last chance to lift football greatest trophy is now just days away.