Lionel Messi just DESTROYED Josko Gvardiol for Argentina's third goal

Lionel Messi celebrates after their sides third goal by Julian Alvarez of Argentina (not pictured) during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 semi final match between Argentina and Croatia at Lusail Stadium on December 13, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar.
(Image credit: Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi… he's done it again. The little genius may not have scored the third goal against Croatia to take Argentina to the World Cup final but the goal was all him.

Messi picked up the ball on the right flank, driving through the final third as Josko Gvardiol, one of the standout stars of the tournament, couldn't live with his dribbling. The Argentina captain twisted, stopped a couple of times and then took the ball around the outside of Gvardiol anyway, in one of the best assists we've seen all tournament – even better than his one against the Netherlands.  

Julian Alvarez was there to prod the cross home for a third goal contribution of the match. 

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Despite Argentina packing out their midfield with the returning Leandro Parades, it was Croatia who dominated the early exchanges and Lionel Messi – matching Lothar Matthaus’s 24-year record for all-time World Cup appearances by playing tonight – was barely given a sniff. Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic picked up where they left off and it looked a tough task for the Albiceleste to find themselves into the game. 

Naturally, Messi was the one that broke the deadlock. Julian Alvarez was adjudged to have been blocked on his run in the penalty area and was awarded a penalty in a decision that stunned Roy Keane, Ian Wright and Gary Neville in the ITV studio. Lionel Messi stepped up for his fourth penalty at the tournament so far, having slotted home three in normal time and one in the quarter-final shootout. He dispatched it expertly for a 1-0 lead. 

Before long, Manchester City attacker Alvarez doubled the lead. In one of the best solo goals of the World Cup so far, the 22-year-old managed to run half the length of the pitch to slot home a third goal of the tournament, getting lucky with a couple of deflections along the way. 

Croatia made two substitutions from half-time and one shortly after in a bid to turn the tide. 

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.