Lionel Messi was not running, but flying with his two hands like wings to put Argentina ahead from the penalty in the 34th minute at the magical Lusail Stadium! The dream of winning the World Cup, which has been broken repeatedly since 2006, is the joy of taking another step towards fulfilling it in Qatar. The relief of reaching the final. Millions of Argentine fans who have been scarred by the pain of failure for 36 years are flying after getting a way out.
Croatia, who knocked Brazil out of the World Cup, followed the same tactics against Argentina on Tuesday. One) play by strengthening their defence. 2) Not allowing Messi to hold the ball and move. But Argentinian coach Lionel Scaloni did not make the same mistake as Tite. Messi did not allow himself to step into the trap of Croatia. The coach instructed the footballers to take their time and try to score on the counterattack. You have to wait patiently for the opponent to make a mistake.
Croatia footballers threw Messi outside the penalty box in 15 minutes. Argentina called for a foul but the referee dismissed it. Targeting the opponent’s goal, Argentina took the first shot in 25 minutes! However, Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livaković got to the spot just in time for Enzo Fernández’s shot.
In the 2018 World Cup group stage, Messi saved the fans who were suffering from a repeat of the 0-3 loss to Croatia in the 34th minute. Julián Álvarez entered the opponent’s penalty box after receiving a through ball in the counterattack. Livaković fouled him to stop him in a one-on-one situation. Messi did not only advance Argentina from the penalty but also broke Gabriel Batistuta’s precedent by scoring the 11th goal. Not only that. He destroyed the strategy of Croatia in one goal.
Álvarez’s perfect shot
Within five minutes, Álvarez’s wonder goal gave Argentina a 2-0 lead. Many people are finding similarities with Diego Maradona’s surprise goal against England in the 1986 World Cup when he entered the box with the ball from the midfield and beat 3 defenders of Croatia to make it 2-0.
World Cup runners-up Russia was completely out of the game after going 0-2 down to Argentina in the first half. In the second half, the blue-white storm started to rise on the field like the gallery of the Lusail Stadium. Messi became terrific. In the 58th minute, his shot from inside the box was blocked by Livaković. In the 70th minute, the Argentinian captain entered the box with the ball from the right side, practically shouldering the opponent’s defender. As he ran, he saw Álvarez in space.
Messi gives the ball to his teammate with a perfect tap of the right foot. Álvarez did not make a mistake to score this time.
Messi pulled Luka Modrić to his chest after the match. The Croatia star may likely have played the last World Cup in the country’s jersey in Qatar.