Argentina soared past Croatia in the World Cup semifinal, beating them 3-0 to advance to the finals for the sixth time.
Lionel Messi's masterclass helped Argentina to a dominant win, as he scored one goal and assisted another. His partner in crime this tournament, Julián Álvarez, scored the other two goals.
Croatia controlled possession over the opening 30 minutes but produced nothing to show for it. But in the 31st minute, seemingly out of nowhere, Julián Álvarez found himself one-on-one with Croatian keeper Dominik Livaković and drew a penalty. Lionel Messi put Argentina up 1-0 with a venomous effort from the spot, firing into the roof of the net. Just five minutes later, Álvarez went on a solo run from midfield, retaining the ball through two challenges, and volleyed the ball past Livaković to make it 2-0 five minutes before halftime.
The second half was much of the same: Croatia possessed the ball for long spells with no goals. Messi took it upon himself to end the game in the 69th minute, as he took the ball from midfield, dribbled past Josko Gvardiol, and set Julián Álvarez up for a sitter, making it 3-0.
Argentina will take on France in the World Cup final.
Expected goals (xG): Argentina 2.12, Croatia 0.30
Man of the Match: Lionel Messi, Argentina
Messi put on a performance for the ages as the whole world watched on. He scored a goal and produced an assist as he powered Argentina past Croatia. The PSG man also completed seven of his eight dribbles, a game-high, and 82.5% of his passes.
We are watching one of the greatest of all time play at the peak of his powers at the age of 35. Sit back and enjoy what could be his final World Cup.
Best Passer: Mateo Kovačić, Croatia
Kovačić was the best passer in the match, completing 94.3% of the passes he attempted. He completed 83-of-88 passes and nine of his 11 line-breaking passes over the course of the game.
Best Challenger: Leandro Paredes, Argentina
Paredes was a force in the middle of the park as he got his second start of the tournament for La Albiceleste. Paredes won seven challenges, including his only aerial duel and his only 50/50 duel, and he made five additional tackles. It was an impressive performance after being benched against Saudi Arabia.
Breakout star: Julián Álvarez
Álvarez now has four goals to his name in the 2022 FIFA World Cup and is having his breakout moment on the world stage. He attempted the most pressures of any player (70), won four challenges, blocked one cross and drew the penalty kick for Messi’s opening goal.