Lionel Messi has achieved a career milestone that may never be replicated in a generation. The 35-year-old superstar led Argentina to its third World Cup title with a win against France 4-2, winning by a penalty shot after an exciting 3-3 draw. The match took place at Lusail Stadium, marking the tournament’s first edition in the Arab world. It was a fitting finale that saw the world’s two best players, Messi and France’s Kylian Mbappé, go head-to-head, with an abundance of drama and excitement on display.
Messi was on top form with his opening goal placed from the penalty spot after an unfortunate trip by Angel Di Maria. Angel Di Maria got his own back eventually though making helping get the score 2-0. Mbappé, however, scored just 2 goals in under 100 seconds, taking the score to 2-2 and forcing extra time. Messi wasn’t done yet, however. He got his second goal in shortly after, tapping in after a France defender cleared the ball just after it had crossed the line. Argentina was on the brink of victory, but Mbappé won another penalty after a handball, which he duly converted to take the game to a shootout.
The Penalty Shootout
In the shootout, Messi and Mbappé both scored their teams’ first penalties, setting the tone for an epic showdown. Next up, Kingsley Coman was blocked by Argentinian, Emi Martinez and France’s Aurelien Tchouameni also missed his goal. Finally, Gonzalo Montiel ended things with a clever penalty that snuck right in on the left side. The crowd went wild and the Argentinian players lifted Messi in celebration.
Messi’s two goals in the final made him the first player to score in every round of the knockout stage in a single World Cup edition. This victory cements his place among the greatest soccer players of all time, alongside Pelé and Diego Maradona, the late Argentina great with whom Messi was often compared. Messi has won seven Ballon d’Or awards, played in a record 26 World Cup matches, and scored 14 goals in the competition. He had come close to winning the World Cup before, finishing as a runner-up in 2014, but this time, he was determined to lead his nation to glory.
“A dream come true” for Messi
In an emotional post-match interview, Messi spoke about the significance of the win, not just for himself but also for the people of Argentina. He said,
This is a dream come true for me. I’ve been trying to win something with this team for a long time, and it’s been a long and difficult road. But we finally did it, and it’s amazing to see the joy and happiness that it’s bringing to the people of Argentina.
This victory is also a significant milestone for Messi’s legacy in the wider world of football. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, but until now, his lack of a major international trophy has been a point of criticism. However, with this win, those doubts have been put to rest.
Messi, the GOAT: Greatest of All Time
Messi has long been known for his incredible skill, precision, and creativity on the pitch. He’s led his club team, Barcelona, to numerous titles, including ten La Liga championships and four Champions League titles. But for years, his detractors have pointed to his lack of success with the Argentine national team as a reason to doubt his greatness.
Looking to the future, the Argentine team will need to maintain their focus and discipline to continue building on their success. Led by Messi and other talented players like Lautaro Martinez and Rodrigo De Paul, there is no doubt that they have the potential to achieve even greater things. For now, though, the country of Argentina is basking in the glow of their team’s triumph. As the legendary Maradona once said, “I am Argentinian, and that is the greatest thing that can happen to me in the world.” And for the players and fans of this great footballing nation, that sentiment has never been more true.