Messi, Alvarez fire brilliant Argentina into final

Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez continued their magical partnership for Argentina as they combined to give La Albiceleste a 3-0 win over Croatia, sending them to the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Argentina reached their second final in three attempts with their win over the Croatians.

After seeing off a late charge from Netherlands in the quarterfinals, Argentina were to face a Croatia side that overcame Brazil in their last eight encounter. Argentina and Croatia are not strangers to each other, having met in the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, with Croatia claiming a 3-0 victory on the day.

Croatia started the match with their midfield dominating possession. The trio of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic put on a clinic for the Argentine midfielders, who were left chasing shadows for most of the opening half hour.

The match changed after the Copa America champions were awarded a penalty in the 34th minute. Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez was clattered by Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot.

Lionel Messi stepped up and buried the penalty for his fifth goal of the 2022 World Cup. The 35-year-old became the highest-scoring Argentine in FIFA World Cup history with 11 goals.

Five minutes later, Argentina doubled their lead through the industrious Alvarez. The young striker picked up the ball in his half after a Croatian corner was cleared, before driving nearly 70 yards into the Croatia box and firing into the back of the net following two failed Croatian attempts at clearing the ball.

Argentina remained in control of affairs and added the final nail to the Croatians’ coffin in the 69th minute, with Messi and Alvarez combining to produce the goal. The captain picked up the ball near the touchline before driving at defender Josko Gvardiol. He turned the RB Leipzig man inside and out before passing the ball to Alvarez, who had the simple task of firing a low effort into the net from close range.

Argentina held their European opponents off for the remainder of the match to become the first team to book their place in this year’s final. They will face one of France or Morocco in the final on Sunday, while Croatia will battle for third place.



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