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Argentine fans celebrate in the streets after winning the World Cup

“This team made people fall in love with them for the first time in decades,” said an Argentine fan.

Celebrations have gripped Argentina, where tens of thousands of fans flooded the streets of Buenos Aires after the Argentine team’s World Cup victory, the first since 1986.

Drone footage on Sunday showed thousands of Argentines gathered at the city’s iconic obelisk and outside the home of soccer legend Diego Maradona.

Millions of Argentines had cried, shouted and hugged as they followed the final match against France earlier, a roller coaster of emotions.

“I feel immense happiness in my heart because this is the first World Cup that I really enjoy,” said Hector Quinteros, a 34-year-old security guard, his eyes brimming with tears.

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“This always happens. They always make us suffer.”

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final - Fans in Buenos Aires - Buenos Aires, Argentina - December 18, 2022 Argentina's fans celebrate winning the World Cup at the Obelisk with a picture of Lionel Messi REUTERS/ Mariana Nedelcu
Argentine fans celebrate the conquest of the World Cup at the Obelisk in Buenos Aires, which had an image of Lionel Messi projected on it [Mariana Nedelcu/Reuters]

France had reduced many Argentine fans to a nervous wreck at multiple points throughout the game.

At the end of the first half, many were preparing to celebrate as Argentina beat France 2-0 and clearly dominated the match.

But that initial happiness turned to anxiety as France caught up, with Kylian Mbappe scoring three times to erase the comfortable lead Lionel Messi and Ángel Di María had given La Albiceleste. The final score after extra time finally saw both teams level at 3-3.

In the end, Argentina managed to pull out a 4-2 victory on penalties, an exciting affair that will surely go down in history as one of the most exciting finals ever.

“I can not believe it! It was difficult, but we did it thanks to Messi, ”Santiago, 13, who celebrated the victory with his family in Buenos Aires, told Reuters.

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Victory in the World Cup comes to a nation hit by an economic crisis and skyrocketing inflation, which is driving many to the brink of financial abyss and much of the population into poverty.

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“It was an incredible match, at times distressing,” said Diego Aburgeily, 46, who celebrated the victory in the Buenos Aires suburbs.

“This team made people fall in love with them for the first time in decades.”

The last time Argentina made a World Cup final appearance was in a losing effort to Germany in 2014.

When Argentina’s Gonzalo Montiel buried his fourth (and winning) penalty in the back of the French net, the fans screamed, threw their hands in the air and hugged each other.

“It’s an immense joy after so much tension,” said lawyer Nicolás Piry, 46.

For some, Messi’s victory in the World Cup will put an end to one of the most disputed debates in football: who is better: Messi or the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo?

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Ronaldo, for all his accolades, has never won a World Cup, pulling out of the tournament in Qatar after his team suffered a devastating semi-final loss to Morocco.

Messi may not play in the 2026 World Cup, but the 35-year-old said he won’t retire immediately from the Argentina national team either.

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