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A second chance: how Argentina reached the World Cup final again

Argentina’s Lionel Messi will be hoping to take home the trophy in his last World Cup game when he faces France in the final.

Pre-tournament favorites Argentina stumbled at the first hurdle before getting their act together to storm into another final, led by their inspiring captain Lionel Messi, who has moved to the top of the tournament’s goalscoring charts.

Eight years ago, Messi dragged Argentina to the World Cup final only to lose to Germany, but this time he has a supporting cast and a tactically astute coach in Lionel Scaloni who has guided them to the main game in Qatar.

This is how Argentina reached the final of the 2022 World Cup:

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Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia

Argentina entered the tournament on a 36-match unbeaten run and the last thing Scaloni’s team expected was to suffer what was statistically the biggest shock in World Cup history when Saudi Arabia defeated them 2-1.

Messi scored a 10th-minute penalty in the first half, where Argentina had three goals disallowed for offside before the Saudis scored twice in the second half to shock the South American champions.

Argentina 2-0 Mexico

Against Mexico, Messi equaled Diego Maradona’s record of 21 appearances and eight goals in the World Cup.

With the game tied 0-0 after more than an hour, Messi chose his moment and then chose his place, firing from 20 meters to beat goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa by the narrowest of margins.

Substitute Enzo Fernández scored with another sublime goal to seal the points.

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Poland 0-2 Argentina

In a match between Barcelona past and present, it was Messi, the club’s top scorer, who saw his team triumph, while Robert Lewandowski, Barca’s top scorer this season, ended the game without shooting on goal. .

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Messi was lucky to win a controversial penalty after a VAR review, but failed from the spot when goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny kept his cool and fended off the Argentine captain.

But, despite the miss, Messi was at the heart of Argentina’s attacks and ran the show in his free role up front, while Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez scored to ensure his team topped the group.

Round of 16: Argentina 2-1 Australia

The stars seemed to align for Messi in his round of 16 clash with Australia, as he scored in his 1,000th match to surpass Maradona’s World Cup tally.

The goal was classic Messi, almost as if time had stopped for everyone else except the 35-year-old, who was quick to react to a short break in close space to send the ball home even as four Australian defenders tried to close. the gap.

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Álvarez made it 2-0 but an own goal by Fernández set up a tense finale in which Argentina held on for victory.

Quarterfinals: Netherlands 2-2 Argentina (3-4 on penalties)

Four goals, a deadlock, brawls with empty team benches, a tense penalty shootout, accusations of unsportsmanlike conduct, 16 yellow cards and one red card: the Netherlands-Argentina game had it all.

A shaken Argentina rallied from a last-gasp draw and in a penalty shootout, goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez made two saves before Lautaro Martínez finished the scoring to eliminate the Dutch in a moody game.

Semifinal: Argentina 3-0 Croatia

A match against Croatia, a team that hadn’t won a knockout game in normal time since 1998, was meant to test Argentina, but it passed with flying colors as Messi nearly single-handedly dispatched the 2018 runners-up.

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Álvarez won the penalty which Messi converted with aplomb and also scored twice, his first goal: a fantastic solo run from the halfway line to beat three defenders.

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But once again, it was Messi who directed things, putting Álvarez in goal with the crucial touch before his own run from the halfway line and dribbling past defender Josko Gvardiol to set up his young attacking partner for the easy finish.

Argentina will play champions France in the final on Sunday.

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