Lionel Messi and his friends are World Champions thanks to the Captain’s magnificent double display, as Argentina win 4-2 on penalties after a pulsating 3-3 tie at the Lusail Stadium, Doha.
Heading into the contest, it was always going to be about two greats in Kylian Mbappe and Messi and who had the nerve to deliver the goods when it matters.
And It was Argentina’s Captain, who struck home the opener from the spot after 23 minutes after Ousmane Dembélé brought down Angel Di Maria in the box. Messi stepped up and struck home the opener.
The Argentines were on top in the first half, and a swift counter-attack allowed Di Maria to make it 2-0 in the 36th minute.Embed from Getty Images
Messi had the chance to make it 3-0 after the break, but a last-minute challenge from Adrian Rabiot was enough to put the Argentine Maestro off.Embed from Getty Images
Argentina was controlling the game and it looked as if they would cruise to victory, but a rash challenge from Nicholas Otamendi on Kolo Muani, allowed Mbappe to get back into the game from the penalty spot, making it 2-1 in the 80th minute.
And it only took a minute for the French superstar to make it 2-2, with a sublime volleyed finish. What a contest we were witnessing, as the final went into extra time.
Going into the extra time period, you would have expected a much cagier affair, as neither side wanted to lose, but Messi was not done yet and completed his hat-trick in the 108th minute. Joules Koundé did everything he could to stop him, but the ball had crossed the line before he could make his acrobatic clearance. 3-2 to Argentina.Embed from Getty Images
But just as you thought France was done, Mbapps’s attempted shot on goal in the 118th minute was blocked by Leandro Parades in the 118th minute. France was awarded a penalty, and Mbappe stepped up to make it 3-3.Embed from Getty Images
Kolo Muani then had the chance to make it 4-3, but Emiliano Martinez stood strong for the Argentines and forced the final into a penalty shootout.
Argentina had a glorious chance to win it via a counter-attack, but Lautaro Martinez’s mistimed free head, sent the ball floating agonizingly past the post.Embed from Getty Images
This was the third time, the World Cup Final had gone to penalties, after Brazil vs Italy in ’94, and France vs Italy in 2006.
Mbappe struck first making it 1-0.Embed from Getty Images
Messi calmly rolled in the equalizer(1-1).
France was the first to blink as Martinez kept out Kingsley Coman.Embed from Getty Images
Paulo Dybala put the Argentines in the driver’s seat at 2-1.Embed from Getty Images
To rub more salt into French words, Aurélien Tchouaméni dragged his penalty wide.
Leandro Pardes put Argentina on match point at 3-1.Embed from Getty Images
Mouani then struck his down the middle, to keep France in it.Embed from Getty Images
But Gonzalo Montiel made sure that his captain’s dream came true, by stroking in the winning penalty at 4-2. The whole of Argentina was in joy as the ball flew into the net, and Messi’s dream of emulating his 1986 hero, Diego Maradona had finally come true.
He also won the Golden Ball award for being the player of the tournament, with seven goals and three assists.Embed from Getty Images
Mbappe won the Golden Boot with eight goals.Embed from Getty Images
While Martinez, the shootout hero, won the Golden Glove.
Enzo Fernández. was the Best young player.Embed from Getty Images
But the one trophy that he and Messi were eagerly waiting for, was finally in their hands, and Messi will now leave Qatar showing everyone why he deserves to be the GOAT or one of the GOATS of football. He also became the first player in history to score in every round of this tournament.
Whether this will be the last time we see Lionel Messi on the biggest stage is a matter to be discussed, but there is no doubt that one of the greatest players of all time has put on a spectacular show in Qatar 2022.
For more information on Messi, Argentina, or the World Cup, visit World in Sport.