Argentina on Tuesday defeated Croatia 3-0 in the 2022 World Cup semi-finals and are on course to play either France or Morocco in the final. Croatia made a confident start but Lionel Messi scored the opening goal of the game from the spot when Dominik Livakovic brought down Julian Alvarez in the penalty box.
Manchester City forward Alvarez then added the third after the half-time break, following a sensational solo run from Messi.
Croatia fall just short again, this looked like one match too far for them after back-to-back wins on penalties.
France and Morocco play in the second semi-final on Wednesday.
FULL-TIME: Argentina 3-0 Croatia
As Modric trudges off to international retirement, Messi is confirmed as the victor of tonight’s Little Magician™ mini-game. France and Morocco do not have any Little Magicians™ in their squads, so that makes Messi the last remaining Little Magician™.
GOAL! Magic by Messi!
69′ Argentina 3-0 Croatia
A brilliant run by Messi down the right wing! He gets away from Gvardiol and sets up Alvarez for a simple finish. Argentina are running away with this one!
68 mins: Yellow card for Romero, that’s been coming since pretty much the first couple of minutes.
Goes straight through Petkovic on the halfway line, entirely pointless and he’s into the book.
First sub for Argentina
62′ Argentina 3-0 Croatia
Scaloni makes his first change of the night, bringing on Lisandro Martinez for Paredes.
Croatia’s new formation
Croatia now basically playing a 4-2-4 with Perisic at left back. Very attacking but lots more space for Argentina to break into.
We’re back underway!
Argentina get us going and the second half has begun!
Can Croatia haul themselves back into this one?
HT: Argentina 2-0 Croatia
Messi makes a wonderful run, dodging defenders to take the ball to the offensive corner. He draws a foul, but the referee blows for half-time anyway.
Croatia have a mountain to climb in the second half.
This is Alvarez’s day
Enzo Fernandez to Julian Alvarez to win the penalty – both kids were not in the XI at start of the tournament, when team was based on last year’s Copa America winners. But Scaloni has very calmly trusted them, as much better options to Papu Gomez and Lautaro Martinez, and the two kids have repaid him…
And now Julian has just run all the way through Croatia to make it 2-0. Awful defending by Croatia, but tremendous faith by Alvarez, as well as youthful energy and confidence to make it happen.
GOAL! Alvarez doubles the lead!
39′ Argentina 2-0 Croatia
After drawing the penalty, Alvarez scores one himself!
GOAL! Argentina 1-0 Croatia | Lionel Messi 34′
MESSI GIVES ARGENTINA THE LEAD!
Livakovic has been superb at saving penalties this tournament, he’s not getting anywhere near that though.
Hammered into the top corner!
Ball over the top, Alvarez is in all of sudden!
Knocked past Livakovic and he brings the striker down – penalty!
Shot for Argentina
25′ Argentina 0-0 Croatia
We have our first shot on target of the game! It’s courtesy of Fernandez, who tries an effort from distance. Livakovic does well to get down quickly and parry the ball away.
Kovacic can be elite
Kovacic is ludicrously good when he wants to be.
I sometimes wonder if Chelsea really know what they’ve got in him. In another life, he’d also slot superbly into Argentina’s midfield.
10 mins still: Cagey opening ten minutes, neither side yet to have any sort of success in attack.
Can already sense the referee is going to have a busy night, both sides appealing for everything.
Messi makes history with 25th World Cup appearance
Lionel Messi, Argentina’s captain and talisman, has equalled the record for the most ever World Cup appearances.
Today’s match against Croatia marks the 25th time the diminutive superstar has taken to the field during world football’s biggest tournament, taking him level with legendary German midfielder Lothar Matthaus.
The players are out on the pitch and raring to go.
Argentina will be sporting a 4-4-2 lineup, and are wearing their traditional blue and white colours.
Croatia have gone for their customary 4-1-2-3 formation, and have their navy blue kit on.
Argentina are looking to reach their sixth World Cup final, while Croatia are hoping to write themselves into the history books as the fourth European nation to reach consecutive finals.
Argentina: E Martinez, Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico, De Paul, Paredes, Fernandez, Mac Allister, Messi, Alvarez.
Croatia team: Livakovic, Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa, Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic, Pasalic, Kramaric, Perisic.
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