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Messi magic sends Argentina by way of to World Cup closing in Qatar | World Cup

Lusail, Qatar – Even earlier than the gamers stepped onto the sphere for his or her pre-match warm-up, the seats had been full.

A fortunate 88,966 folks received their palms on the most well liked ticket on the town.

They got here to see Argentina tackle Croatia at the majestic Lusail stadium on Tuesday evening. In actuality, they got here hoping to see one other classic efficiency from Lionel Messi, the diminutive determine sporting the quantity 10 on his Argentina jersey.

On this event, followers come to Argentina’s video games anticipating to see Messi ship — and he did not disappoint.

For the primary half-hour of the semifinal match, Croatia were the ones controlling the tempo, transferring the ball round, attempting to interrupt up the Argentinian set-up.

The Albicelestes followers weren’t as boisterous as in different matches. There was stress within the air, and solely hardcore supporters dared to make noise.

This pensiveness was not stunning as Croatia beat the South Americans 3-0 in their 2018 World Cup encounter.

Croatia’s Luka Modric (proper) in motion with Argentina’s Enzo Fernandez throughout the Argentina vs Croatia World Cup semifinal on December 13, 2022, at Lusail Stadium, Qatar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Messi spent many of the first half hour of the match strolling round, showing to be in no rush, his physique language not giving a lot away.

However, simply as when Argentina confronted Mexico after which in opposition to the Netherlands, Messi’s moments of magic had been coming.

“We didn’t begin nicely. Messi didn’t see a variety of the ball due to the way in which Croatia began,” stated Cristian Rolero, an Argentinian who travelled from Miami to see his hero in motion.

“Messi is God. How else do you describe what we noticed tonight? Unbelievable participant. There isn’t a different participant like him. By no means, ever,” he stated.

Cristian Rolero holding an Argentinian flag outside the stadium after the match between Argentina and Croatia.
Cristian Rolero outdoors Lusail Stadium after the Argentina vs Croatia FIFA World Cup 2022 match on December 13 [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Assured Croatia

Croatia were in a confident mood trying to attain back-to-back World Cup finals and develop into the primary crew since Brazil in 2002 to take action.

However the Argentinian left-footer, who has won the Ballon d’Or seven times, had completely different plans. On the evening that he joined German footballer Lothar Matthaus as joint holder of the file variety of World Cup appearances at 25, Messi capped his landmark match with a memorable efficiency in opposition to Croatia.

After Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic fouled Julian Alvarez, Argentina’s all-time file goalscorer stepped ahead and coolly dispatched the penalty. It was Messi’s fifth purpose on this event, and he was not completed. He smelled blood and shortly went on the rampage.

Lionel Messi scores on a penalty against Croatia in the semifinal match.
Lionel Messi takes a shot throughout the Argentina vs Croatia, FIFA World Cup 2022, semifinal match on December 13, at Lusail Stadium, Qatar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

Then the chants started and the hundreds of Argentina supporters clad in sky blue and white began singing Messi’s identify.

5 minutes after scoring the penalty, Messi headed the ball to the full of life Alvarez, who went on a mazy run earlier than hitting the again of Croatia’s web.

“There isn’t a participant as constant as Messi. He delivers every time we’d like him. He takes duty. He reveals the world he’s the perfect,” Diego Dib advised Al Jazeera.

Comparisons with Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo now want to finish, Dib stated.

“It’s not honest or proper when folks evaluate him to Ronaldo. What has Ronaldo executed on this World Cup? I hope that comparability is now completed for good.”


‘No human being can cease Messi’

The Albicelestes had been up 2-0, however their talisman was going to torment the Croats much more. The Croatia crew had been on the ropes and Messi was within the temper. Their followers had been shocked. They sat in silence and will solely watch in awe because the Paris Saint-Germain ahead tore aside their backline.

Messi’s legs is perhaps slowing, however even at 35 he nonetheless has one of many quickest soccer brains, as he confirmed in a superb run and help for the third purpose within the recreation. He made simple work of Croatia’s Josko Gvardiol, one of many standout defenders of the event, earlier than organising teammate Alvarez for his second rating of the evening.

Lionel Messi in action against Croatia during the FIFA World Cup 2022 semifinal on December 13 at Lusail Stadium, Qatar.
Lionel Messi in motion in opposition to Croatia throughout the FIFA World Cup 2022 semifinal on December 13 at Lusail Stadium, Qatar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]
Lionel Messi coming up to his teammates with both palms up for a double high five.
Lionel Messi celebrates scoring his facet’s first purpose from the penalty spot throughout the Argentina vs Croatia FIFA World Cup semifinal on December 13, 2022, at Lusail Stadium, Qatar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

“No human being can cease Messi. You may put as many defenders as you need in entrance of him, he’ll discover a approach,” Ricardo Falu advised Al Jazeera.

“When different groups see him they provide up earlier than the sport begins. They know they may lose. He has that impression on different groups,” Falu stated earlier than dashing off to hitch different followers on the leisure zone outdoors Lusail Stadium.

When the clock reached 90 minutes, and 5 minutes of added time was introduced, the stadium’s seats had been nonetheless full. Nobody was leaving early in case Messi had extra in retailer. However there was to be no extra. The Croats had been humbled by Messi magic.

Saddened Croatia fans looking on from the stands as their side is down 2-0 at the half.
Saddened Croatia followers look on from the stands as their facet is down 2-0 at half-time throughout the Argentina vs Croatia, FIFA World Cup 2022, semifinal on December 13, at Lusail Stadium, Qatar [Sorin Furcoi/Al Jazeera]

“With out Messi, there is no such thing as a approach they [would] have overwhelmed us,” stated Jan Maric, a Croatia supporter. “They’ve the perfect participant on the earth. With out him they’re very common. We [would] have beat them badly,” he added.

After the ultimate whistle, Argentinian gamers rushed to their captain, all hugs and excessive fives. The “little magician” then joined his teammates as they serenaded their loyal followers behind the Croatian purpose.

Messi and his crew will probably be again in Lusail on Sunday for the World Cup closing, the place he hopes to win the only prize still missing from his intensive assortment of trophies and titles.

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