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  • Writer's pictureThe Season Ticket

FIFA World Cup | Messi shines as Argentina beat Croatia to reach final

Lionel Messi scored a penalty and had a hand in two other goals as Argentina comprehensively beat Croatia 3-0 to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup final.


Julian Alvarez also bagged a brace as Lionel Scaloni's men set up a final against either France or Morocco on Sunday.


Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 34th minute after Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic felled Julian Alvarez inside the area.


Manchester City striker Alvarez raced through on goal after a clever through ball by Enzo Fernandes, and got a touch on the ball before being caught by Livakovic.


Messi, who scored one and missed one of his two previous penalties in Qatar, blasted an excellent spot kick into the top corner to give his country the lead. It was the 35-year-old's 11th World Cup goal, surpassing his compatriot Gabriel Batistuta's previous record for Argentina.


Alvarez doubled Argentina's lead with a superb solo goal six minutes later. Argentina broke from a Croatia corner, with Messi producing a clever touch to pick out Alvarez on the halfway line.


The 22-year-old drove into the box, benefiting from a lucky rebound off a defender, before prodding a clinical finish past Livakovic to make it 2-0.


Croatia were all over the place after the penalty, and Livakovic made a brilliant save to keep out Alexis Mac Allister's header just before the interval.


A mercurial Messi rolled back the years to set up Alvarez' second in the 69th minute, dribbling down the right flank before bamboozling Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol and putting the ball on a plate for Alvarez to tap home from six yards.


Argentina saw the game out with ease, keeping a clean sheet to cap off an excellent performance.


Messi is now just 90 minutes away from lifting the one trophy that has thus far eluded him, or from suffering more heartbreak in the final following 2014's extra time defeat to Germany.


France take on Morocco in the second semi-final on Thursday.


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