By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Argentina put up one of its best performances on football’s biggest stage after crushing Croatia, 3-0, in the semifinals of the ongoing FIFA World Cup on December 14, 2022.
Living legend Lionel Messi stepped up when Argentina needed him the most and single-handedly dominated Croatia with his magical outing.
The PSG forward drew first blood and scored the first goal of the match after finding the back of the net in a penalty situation in the 34th minute.
Messi’s penalty came after Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic was whistled for a bad foul and was slapped with a yellow card.
The Argentinian wizard then sank his left-footed shot that kissed the top right corner of Croatia’s goalpost.
Despite Croatia’s improved backline defense after the sequence, Julian Alvarez still exposed them and helped Argentina double their lead after a short stab right-footed goal.
Perhaps the best highlight of the game came during Alvarez’s second goal in the second half. After Messi received the ball in the midfield, Argentina’s star cruised past Croatia’s three defenders and pulled off an insane twirling escape dribble that paved the way for his assist.
After Messi escaped from the defense, the 10-time La Liga champion fired an on-point ground ball pass to Alvarez who calmly sank the right-footed dagger goal.
“In this beautiful sport, even if you think you’ve sealed the game, you may get surprised again. I believe my team has the means, willingness, freshness and pride to face anything,” said Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni.
This will also be a huge opportunity for Messi to cement his football legacy if he wins his first-ever World Cup championship.
Messi came close to winning his first World Cup way back in 2014 but fell short after his Argentinian squad lost at the hands of Germany held in Brazil.