World Cup: First Semi-Final

Croatia took on the might of Argentina at Lusail Stadium this evening and found their path to a second successive World Cup Final blocked by Lionel Messi and company.

the Albicelesti’s Talisman opened the scoring from the spot and then single-handedly created the third goal as Argentina comfortably despatched the Balkan Nation 3-0.

Julian Alvarez was the other star of the night, winning the spot kick that gave Messi the platform to put the South Americans ahead in the 34th minute after the Manchester City forward had been felled by goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.

Alvarez doubled the lead five minutes later as Argentina raced away on the counter-attack from a Croatia corner, the 22-year-old benefitting from two lucky bounces that allowed him to bundle his way into another one-on-one with the keeper before prodding it home.

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With 21 minutes to go, Messi ensured that his dream of finally lifting the famous gold trophy remained alive when he wriggled his past Josko Gvardiol and cut the ball back for Alvaraz to side-foot past the keeper.

Argentina will now face the winner of tomorrow’s semi-final between Morrocco and holders, France.

Reader Comments (33)

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Darren Hind

1 Posted 13/12/2022 at 18:54:55

A rare occasion. I could make a case for either of these two teams.

I want both Modric and Messi to win a World Cup. Both deserve it.

I want the staggering number of Argentinians who have sold everything to be at these finals to be rewarded. I want the brilliant Gvardiol to live up to his billing of being one of the world’s top talent at the age of 20.

I’ll get myself a bevy in the certain knowledge that I will be pleased for the winners…. whoever they are!

Duncan McDine

2 Posted 13/12/2022 at 18:59:59

I like the sentiments Darren. My observations are slightly less poignant… Modric up close looks like a cross between Jesus Christ and Luke Chadwick. And possibly even a bit of “Gareth from The Office” about him.

Kieran Kinsella

3 Posted 13/12/2022 at 19:28:56

Pitch is a mud pit like a 1980s high school rugby field

Robert Tresell

4 Posted 13/12/2022 at 19:34:56

How was that a penalty?

Jamie Crowley

5 Posted 13/12/2022 at 19:38:47

Robert – that’s a 100% pen every day.

Chipped, wipes out the attacker, didn’t get the ball.

The real question is how in the world were the two Croatian CBs roasted so badly – split like a piece of firewood – on a route 1 ball????

Horrific defending, very un-Croatia like!

Jamie Crowley

6 Posted 13/12/2022 at 19:39:10

Holy shit what a goal! WOW

Pat Kelly

7 Posted 13/12/2022 at 19:40:55

It’s like Everton are in the semi-final

Jamie Crowley

8th Posted 13/12/2022 at 19:42:00

Pat, I’m guessing Croatia = Everton?

Kieran Kinsella

9 Posted 13/12/2022 at 19:46:39

Well if Argentina win it will be even funnier to see them lose on Sunday

Jamie Crowley

10 Posted 13/12/2022 at 19:47:21

Kieran –

What makes you think Morrocco will beat Argentina? 😜

Pat Kelly

11 Posted 13/12/2022 at 19:48:07

Yes Jamie 😉

Kieran Kinsella

12 Posted 13/12/2022 at 19:49:16


They’re saying the final match is to be refed by the ref from the England game, so anything’s possible.

Darren Hind

13 Posted 13/12/2022 at 19:53:32

The comeback Kings are going to have to stage one hell of a come back here.

Argentina have one foot in the final. but they still need to get the other one there.

I’m still glued

Jason Leung

14 Posted 13/12/2022 at 20:01:03

I’m unsure if that was a penalty, there’s nowhere for the keeper to go for one. And Alvarez runs into him. What else can the keeper do in that situation?

Jamie Crowley

15 Posted 13/12/2022 at 20:07:25


If the keeper gets to the ball first, then yes. But he didn’t – wasn’t even close, so it’s gotta be a penalty!

Tony Abrahams

16 Posted 13/12/2022 at 20:30:27

Simply brilliant.

Peter Mills

17 Posted 13/12/2022 at 20:31:24

What Tony said.

Brendan McLaughlin

18 Posted 13/12/2022 at 20:31:26

Mesmerizing stuff from Messi…yet again

Soren Moyer

19 Posted 13/12/2022 at 20:36:07

I’ve said it before. He can still tear the teams apart.

Dave Abrahams

20 Posted 13/12/2022 at 20:36:21

Getting on but still producing magic spells well worth waiting for.

Danny O’Neill

21 Posted 13/12/2022 at 20:38:13

Messi is unbelievable.

Up there with the greats.

The Argentine Kevin Sheedy.

Okay that’s tongue in cheek!

Dale Self

22 Posted 13/12/2022 at 20:41:33

Glad to see Messi in a position to let the football talk while the other guy is probably arranging a Piers Morgan rehab show.

Andrew Ellams

23 Posted 13/12/2022 at 21:32:43

Have to admit I quite like the idea of ​​Messi winning a World Cup and Ronaldo and Neymar not.

Jamie Crowley

24 Posted 13/12/2022 at 21:36:30

As an Englishman, do ye pull for France or the Argies?

Gotta be the Argies due to Messi, no??

It’s like an English nightmare final I think?

I would love to know people’s thoughts on this and who they are rooting for in the final, assuming France wins tomorrow.

Darren Hind

25 Posted 13/12/2022 at 21:39:25

Gvardiol is a player I had never even heard of before this world cup, My attention was drawn t him and I have been very impressed.

I know he is only 20, but if he wants to be world class. he could not have gotten a closer view of what it actually looks like.

Messi….fuck me.

Tony Abrahams

26 Posted 13/12/2022 at 21:50:02

Jamie, football should always be about great players, and romance! Messi provides both imo, so I’m sure a lot of ‘football lovers’ will be rooting for The Argies?

I also hope France win tomorrow, because I think it will be a much better final, if they play Argentina, rather than the Morrocco.

Anyone see the text today showing how the Moroccan manager was on a course that was put on by Mikel Arteta, (I think?) with little Mickey, explaining how his Arsenal team beat Man City, at Wembley in the fa cup. Tactics that Morrocco have adopted to bring about success.

Peter Mills

27 Posted 13/12/2022 at 22:03:31

Jamie#24, not really a nightmare, we can relax now knowing one of those countries is going to lose!

Seriously, it has been a pleasure watching Giroud, Griezman and Mbappé, but surely we would all love to see the little Argentinian genius win it, to take him right up there with Pele and Maradona?

Jamie Crowley

28 Posted 13/12/2022 at 22:27:16

Tony and Peter-

Gotta root for Messi. Honestly the best player I’ve personally watched.

He’s just a once in a lifetime athlete. I’d compare him to anyone in their craft I’ve witnessed over the years: Jordan, Gretzky, Brady, etc. Any of them.

My entire family is Messi over Ronaldo, we all agree he’s got oodles more talent than Ronaldo – who’s clearly amazing in his own right. But Messi’s technical skill is simply filthy. The dude has the ball on a string. It’s been an absolute joy to watch for years.

I hope he gets his WC crown.

Duncan McDine

29 Posted 13/12/2022 at 22:44:26

Peter 27 – It’s so hard to decide who the GOAT is in football, but if we’re using World Cups and goals as hard-currency, then Pele will probably never be beaten. It’s pretty unanimous in several sports as Jamie pointed out, but if Messi wins this World Cup, then he certainly joins Pele and Maradona at the top table.

Dale Self

30 Posted 13/12/2022 at 22:48:58

Okay, here is a little something from the ‘once you’re Everton, you are always Everton’ bag: Richarlison going to talk to the fans after losing to Croatia –

Serious football dude who truly gets it.

Kim Vivian

31 Posted 13/12/2022 at 22:49:24

For anyone that’s not seen it the Messi film on BBC iPlayer is worth a watch.

Don Alexander

32 Posted 13/12/2022 at 22:58:06

Football’s GOAT is rightly very subjective. Pele, Maradona, Messi, Ronaldo, Zico, Cruyff, di Stefano, Puskas, Platini all play/ed for fabulous teams, and that can’t be underestimated at all.

I’d really appreciate other TWers (even our Dazza!) suggesting any fabulous player who didn’t have a star-studded team around him as a potential GOAT. There must be at least a few.

My late dad is screaming “Finney” in my dreams.

Any takers?

Paul Birmingham

33 Posted 13/12/2022 at 23:23:27

Football genius.. Lionel Messi.

If George Best, had played in World Cups, he’d have been up there on the top table, in my view.

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