Messi World Cup magic and Alvarez double books final spot, Argentina vs Croatia (3-0) highlights [Video]

Argentina vs Croatia (3-0)
Argentina vs Croatia (3-0)

Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez fired Argentina to a place in the World Cup final with a dominant 3-0 semifinal win over Croatia at Lusail Stadium.

Croatia, aiming to reach back-to-back finals after their 2018 heroics, were the better side during a cagey opening half-hour but goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic brought down Alvarez as the Manchester City striker lifted the ball over him.

Livakovic was his country’s hero in the shootout wins over Japan and Brazil but he was left with no chance as Messi thumped his penalty into the top-right corner to join Kylian Mbappe at the top of the Golden Boot leading scorer race.

Alvarez then tenaciously bundled his way through a scattered Croatia backline on the counter-attack to double the lead, and the two goalscorers combined delightfully in the 69th minute — Messi tormenting Josko Gvardiol with a winding dribble before teeing up Alvarez for his fourth of the tournament.

ARG — Lionel Messi (34 mins, pen)
ARG — Julian Alvarez (39 mins)
ARG — Julian Alvarez (69 mins)
Messi himself has five and is now Argentina’s all-time leading World Cup goalscorer, having overhauled Gabriel Batistuta. Next he will get one last chance to match fellow great Diego Maradona and lift the famous gold trophy.

There was another all-time great plotting another route towards glory on the field on Tuesday and Luka Modric orchestrated a composed opening from Croatia, although their lack of cutting edge when compared to Argentina’s lethal front two was ultimately exposed.

Dejan Lovren absent-mindedly played Alvarez onside and Livakovic took him out as he prodded towards goal. Penalties have not always been Messi’s strongest suit, but he found a precision strike to meet the moment and net his 11th overall World Cup goal.

If the first goal was the result of hours of repetition at plush training grounds, the second was born on the pitches Calchin, Cordoba. Alvarez seized possession on the halfway line after Marcelo Brozovic’s cross from a short corner was blocked. Nahuel Molina’s storming run down the outside confused Croatia and Alvarez battled on to go it alone, bursting through challenges from Josip Juranovic and Borna Sosa to finish.

Messi almost scored his second, exchanging passes with Enzo Fernandez to draw a fine stop from Livakovic at his near post, but he had one more piece of magic to give Alvarez a second goal that was far more straightforward than his first.

Gvardiol’s performances in this tournament have led to transfer speculation putting a £100million ($123m) price tag on his head. But he found himself bamboozled as Messi beat him, checked back and spun around him again to leave a chance on a plate for Alvarez. The final awaits for the great man.
Argentina Lineup (4-4-2, right to left): 23. E. Martinez (GK) — 26. Molina, 13. Romero, 19. Otamendi, 3. Tagliafico — 7. De Paul, 24. E. Fernandez, 5. Paredes, 20. Mac Allister — 9. Alvarez, 10. Messi

Croatia lineup (4-3-3, right to left): 1. Livakovic (GK) — 22. Juranovic, 6. Lovren, 20. Gvardiol, 19. Sosa — 10. Modric, 11. Brozovic, 8. Kovacic — 13. Pasalic, 9. Kramaric, 4. Perisic.

Argentina vs Croatia (3-0)
Argentina vs Croatia (3-0)



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