Argentina now secures the first spot in the World Cup final after dominating Croatia with a 3-0 win on Tuesday in Qatar.
Superstar forward and captain Lionel Messi definitely worked his magic all throughout the match, dazzled with a goal and assist, and now he's one win away from lifting the trophy of his dreams.
He and fellow forward teammate Julián Álvarez were obviously the difference makers in Tuesday night's match, playing a crucial role in all three goals.
Argentina 3 - Croatia 0
In the 34th minute, Álvarez was taken down inside the 18-yard box by goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic. The ref whistled, showed Livakovic a yellow card and awarded Argentina a penalty.
Naturally, it was Messi, playing in his fifth World Cup, who successfully scored the opener from the penalty spot. He kicked the ball with his left foot into the top right corner, giving his side the first lead 1-0.
This became Messi's 11th FIFA World Cup goal and the Argentina captain now owns his country's record for the most scored in the tournament. With five goals scored in Qatar, Messi now stands tied with France's Kylian Mbappé for the Golden Boot Award given to the tournament's top scorer.
Five minutes later, Álvarez scored a superb a second goal for his side. As he raced forward from the opposing end with the ball, he forced his way through the Croatian defense. His initial shot got blocked but he managed to rebound and put the ball into the net to make it 2-0 going into halftime.
In the second half, Argentina was vying for that third goal to put away Croatia. They delivered once again, this time with Álvarez and Messi working together.
In the 70th minute, Messi didn't want to lose possession, dribbling all the way to the opponents' byline. He spotted Álvarez inside the box and the 22-year-old produced his second goal of the game and his fourth of the tournament.
After the victory, Messi said:
"It's very exciting to see all of this. As we said at the beginning, seeing these people, the family throughout the World Cup, it is something incredible to experience. And well, we are going for the last game, which is what we wanted.
We have been enjoying a lot since we arrived at this World Cup, even though we had a losing start. We were confident in this group, we are going to move forward.
We ask people to trust because we know what we are. This group is crazy and well, we did it. We are going to play one more final. Once again, Argentina is in a World Cup final and well, let's enjoy all this."
Lionel Messi's Records
With his appearance against Croatia, Messi now joins German Lothar Matthäus for the record of most appearances in FIFA men's World Cup history with 25 matches played.
With five goals scored in Qatar, Messi is currently tied with Kylian Mbappé (France) for the Golden Boot Award given to the top scorer of the FIFA World Cup.
Further, Messi assisted on a goal, and now he's the favorite to win the Golden Ball award as tournament MVP.
Lionel Messi will then lead his country against the winner of France and Morocco in pursuit of his first ever World Cup title.
Meanwhile, Croatia will play the loser of the other semifinal in the third-place game on Saturday.
Up next, on December 14 (Wednesday), France will face Morocco, the Cinderella team of the tournament, in the second semifinal match.
No matter what happens in the semifinals, this World Cup will be historic!
- Lionel Messi may win his first World Cup
- France may be the first team in 60 years to retain the World Cup title
- Morocco may give Africa its first ever World Cup trophy
Who's your favorite team to win at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022?