(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) –Lionel Messi has opened the scoring with a penalty and set up the game-sealing goal as Argentina beat Croatia 3-0 in their FIFA World Cup semifinal in Qatar.
It sends the South American side to its second final in the past three men’s World Cups, and its sixth overall, with victories in 1978 and 1986, and runner-up finishes in 1930, 1990 and 2014.
Messi’s side was electric in attack against Croatia at the Lusail Stadium, with 22-year-old Julián Álvarez scoring two goals and drawing the penalty that allowed Messi to net the opener in the 34th minute.
Messi’s penalty was his 11th goal in World Cup matches, taking him past Gabriel Batistuta to outright first place on Argentina’s list.
He also equalled German Lothar Matthäus’s record for the most matches played, with the final set to be his record-breaking 26th.
Of some concern for Argentina is Messi’s left hamstring, which he was poking and prodding at various points in the match, but if his performance in the semifinal is anything to go by, he can still put on a masterful outing.