Lionel Messi’s unique career is over. The Argentine star is finally a World Cup champion.
Messi scored twice and then another in a penalty shootout as Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties on Sunday to win their third World Cup title, even though Kylian Mbappe scored the first hat-trick in a final in 56 years.
Now there is no further discussion. Messi is certainly among the greatest soccer players of all time, along with Pele – a three-time World Cup champion for Brazil – and Diego Maradona, the Argentine great who is often compared to Messi.
Messi did what Maradona did in 1986 and led Argentina to the World Cup. The torch will one day pass to Mbappe, whose late goals lit up one of the most spectacular finals in the tournament’s 92-year history and made him the first scorer in a hat-trick in a final since 1966, but not yet.
“Let’s go, Argentina!” Messi stepped into a microphone on the pitch during the post-match celebrations.
Messi put Argentina ahead with a penalty and played a part in Angel Di Maria’s goal that made it 2-0 after 36 minutes.
Mbappe scored twice in 97 seconds to extend the match and then Messi scored his second goal in the 109th minute. But there was still time for another penalty kick from Mbappe to lead the exciting match to penalties.
Gonzalo Montiel scored the penalty kick after Kingsley Coman’s attempt was saved by Argentine goalkeeper Amy Martinez, and Aurelien Tchoamene fouled France.
Europe’s streak of four consecutive World Cup winners has come to an end. The last South American tournament was Brazil, and that was also in Asia – when Japan and South Korea hosted the tournament in 2002.
Argentina won their previous titles at the World Cups in 1978 and 1986. In Qatar, Qatar cemented its victory in the Copa America last year, its first major title since 1993. It is the culmination of Messi’s international career, which may not be over yet. He is 35 years old because he is still playing well.
It was also the end of a unique World Cup tournament – the first to be held in the Middle East and the Arab world.
For FIFA and the Qatari organizers, the final between two soccer greats and the world’s best players represented a perfect way to end a tournament that had been the subject of controversy since the scandalous vote in 2010 to award the event to a small Arab emirate. .
Since then, years of scrutiny have focused on changing the dates from the traditional period of June-July to November-December, heavy criticism of how migrant workers were treated, and then fretting over the idea of moving football’s biggest event to a country where there are gay acts. illegal.
On Sunday, there was a narrative for most people: Can Messi do it?
However, he could give 23-year-old Mbappe – Messi’s team mate at PSG – everything he can to emulate Pele in winning his first World Cup.