- In the semi-finals, Argentina defeated Croatia 3-0.
- Argentina will contest its sixth World Cup final.
- Messi and Alvarez shines as Argentina defeats Croatia to reach World Cup final.
Argentina became the first team to the FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar in 2022 thanks to Lionel Messi and Julian Alvarez’s combined efforts. In the first semi-final of the competition, the Albicelestes defeated 2018 runners-up Croatia by 3-0 at the Lusail stadium.
No team sat back as Argentina and Croatia both got the match started on the front foot. After 25 minutes, Julian Alvarez of Manchester City fired the game’s first attempt on goal from outside the box, but goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic skilfully stopped it.
Alvarez was taken down by Livakovic in the 32nd minute after being put through one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The penalty was quickly given by the referee, who also had the video assistant referee (VAR) look it over. Argentina took the lead after Lionel Messi stepped up to take the penalty shot and slammed it into the top-right corner.
Only a few minutes later, Messi took the ball from the midfield and set Alvarez free to launch a counterattack. After a few lucky ricochets, the 22-year-old scored after running half the length of the pitch. Argentina began to smell blood at this point and launched waves of attacks on Croatia.
A few minutes later, Messi’s corner was met by a fierce Alexis Mac Allister header, forcing Livakovic into action. The Croatian, who was under pressure to go down quickly, made a fantastic left-handed save to maintain the score.
Just before halftime, Emiliano Martinez in goal dodged a shot from Josip Juranovic, giving Croatia an opportunity to cut down Argentina’s lead. Andrej Kramaric of Hoffenheim was given the opportunity to score on the rebound, but he was only able to miss the mark.
Dejan Lovren nearly scored in the 62nd minute after connecting with a brilliantly drifted free kick from Luka Modric. His headed effort missed much force, though, as the Argentine defence swept it away.
Messi stepped up to secure Argentina’s triumph just as Croatia began to challenge their lead. The seven-time winner of the Ballon d’Or unleashed his vintage self and made his way through a couple of Croatian midfielders before holding off star defender Josko Gvardiol to lay a magnificent cut-back cross on a plate for Alvarez, who graciously obliged to make it 3-0 for Argentina in the 69th minute.
Ivan Perisic and Mislav Orsic both attempted goals as Croatia looked to get back into the game, but Martinez was unconcerned by any of the attempts. With only a few minutes remaining, Zlatko Dalic removed their captain and talisman Modric, accepting the result.
Argentina expertly handled the remaining portion of the match to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup final as the first team.