Messi led Argentina to a penalty shootout victory over France in the final at the Lusaille Stadium in Qatar. In a tense final, Argentina took the lead in the 23rd minute when Messi converted a penalty after Angel Di Maria fouled Ousmane Dembele. Then, in the 36th minute, a quick counterattack saw Messi sneak the ball past his own player and put Alexis Mc Allister in the striking position. The Brighton midfielder burst into the penalty area and gave a pass to Di Maria, who outplayed a rushing Lioris with a shot into the bottom corner and made the score 2-0 in favor of Argentina.
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It seemed that Argentina would win easily, but Kylian Mbappe had other plans and he put France back in the game, scoring two goals in 97 seconds. In the 80th minute, the PSG star converted a penalty, making the score 1-2 after Colo Mouani was brought down in the Argentine penalty box. The 23-year-old then made the score 2-2 with a stunning volley in the 81st minute.
The match went into extra time, and both sides began looking for a winner, and Messi seemed to find one for Argentina. The veteran scored after a reflection from Hugo Llaurice, making the score 3-2, after a quick VAR check ruled in his favor in the 108th minute. But Mbappe came to the aid of his team again in the 118th minute, converting another penalty kick in the 118th minute after Gonzalo Montiel saw the Frenchman’s shot hit him in the arm.
After Mbappe’s hat trick, the score was 3-3 and it came down to a penalty shootout. During the series, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez made stunning saves, blocking shots from Aurélien Tchouameni and Kingsley Coman. Gonzalo Montiel converted the winning penalty and Argentina won the series 4-2. He was also named MVP for his performances in the tournament.
In honor of his birthday, here are Messi’s five best moments at the 2022 World Cup:
5. A long shot in a group-stage match against Mexico
Argentina began its 2022 World Cup campaign.The teams went into halftime tied at 0-0. Determined to single-handedly change the course of the match, Messi received a pass from Di Maria in the 64th minute. From 25 yards out, the Argentine captain shot from long range past a crowd of bodies into the bottom corner. The importance of the goal was so great that the Argentine fans went crazy in the stands. To calm their nerves, Messi assistedEnzo Fernandez in the 87th minute and Argentina won 2-0.
4. Assists against the Netherlands in the quarterfinals
Argentina faced the mighty Dutch in the quarterfinals, and the pre-match atmosphere was filled with drama. Dutch head coach Louis van Gaal, speaking to the press, said that Messi’s lack of defense was Argentina’s weakness. Argentina took the lead in the 35th minute and Messi’s assist was superb. He broke free and broke forward from central midfield and then gave a reverse pass to Nahuel Molina, who simply poked the ball into the goal.
The match ended in a 2-2 draw and then Argentina won 4-3 in a penalty shootout.
3. Juan Roman Riquelme’s celebration and post-match reaction in the quarterfinal against Holland
Argentina’s second goal in the match against Holland was scored by Messi. After scoring the goal, he directed his celebration toward Van Gaal, clasping his ears. This was inspired by former player Riquelme, one of Messi’s childhood idols, whom Van Gaal had once violently banished from Barcelona. After the match, Messi also had an argument with Wout Weghorst in the tunnel, where he called the Dutch striker a fool.
2. Assist against Croatia in the semi-finals
Argentina faced Croatia in the semi-finals, and the match was expected to be tense. But instead the game turned out to be one-sided, with Argentina winning 3-0. The highlight of the match was Messi’s pass for Argentina’s third goal. After receiving the ball, Messi skipped past Josco Guardiola and entered the Croatian penalty box from the right flank. Twisting and turning, he outwitted a defender and assisted Alvarez for a simple put ball into play.
1. goal in the final against France
Messi’s goal in the final against France was not a typical goal reflecting his genius. But it was decisive because it gave Argentina the lead in extra time, with only Mbappe tying the score and bringing it to a penalty shootout. Messi simply had to score after a deflection from Llaurice, which followed a brilliant Argentine counterattack.