Watch: Messi eclipses Batistuta, goes beyond magical with jaw-dropping assist in World Cup semi vs Croatia

No fairy-tale ending was in store for veteran Luka Modric and Croatia as the Brazil conquerors were simply outplayed by a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina in the first semi-final of the FIFA World Cup 2022 on Wednesday. Extending his free-scoring run at the grandest stage for La Albiceleste, Messi scored the all-important opener by converting a first-half penalty to give Argentina an early lead in the recently concluded encounter against Croatia at the Lusail Stadium.

The Argentina talisman shattered Gabriel Batistuta’s long-standing record by netting his fifth goal of the Qatar World Cup. Messi has become Argentina’s all-time leading goal scorer at the FIFA World Cup. The Paris Saint Germain (PSG) superstar has scored 11 goals in 25 matches at the FIFA World Cup – the most by an Argentina player in the history of the celebrated tournament. Messi also matched Lothar Matthaus’ elusive feat in the same contest on Wednesday.

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Giving Croatia’s world-class defence a run for their money, the 35-year-old also produced an unbelievable assist to help Julian Alvarez complete his stunning brace as Argentina ended up hammering Croatia 3-0 in the first semi-final of the Qatar World Cup. Rewriting history in the ongoing edition of the showpiece event, Messi has become the first player to score and assist in four different matches at the FIFA World Cup matches since 1966.

Messi-led Argentina side has become the first team to enter the final of the Qatar World Cup. The joint-most capped player in the history of the FIFA World Cup will lead Argentina in the final on Sunday. Messi-led Argentina will either meet defending champions France or giant killers Morocco in the FIFA World Cup 2022 final at the Lusail Stadium.

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“Throughout the World Cup it has been incredible what we have lived through and we are going to play the last game which is what we wanted. I’ve been enjoying this for a long time, since we arrived at this World Cup. We asked people to trust us because we know who we are. It’s crazy, we did it. We’re going to play another final. Once again, Argentina are in a World Cup final,” Messi told news agency Reuters after Argentina thrashed Croatia 3-0 to enter the summit clash of the Qatar World Cup.