Lionel Messi scored a penalty for Argentina in the first half of his country’s 2022 World Cup semi-final match against Croatia on Wednesday night, but his most impressive piece of action was a tightly controlled run into the box ahead of assisting Julian Alvarez for his team’s third.
The goal left ITV commentators Lee Dixon, Ally McCoist and Sam Matter face full of praise.
Ally McCoist praised Lionel Messi’s outstanding assist for Julian Alvarez as ‘”genius” as Argentina beat Croatia to make the 2022 World Cup final.
Argentina were already two up after the first half but in the 69th minute the 35-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward turned Josko Gvardiol one way and then the other – more than once – as he surged deep from an inside right position, before making his way into the box and setting up team-mate Alvarez for a simple finish.
That goal ended the game as a contest and attention turned for many to Sunday’s game, when Argentina are set to play the winner of France v Morocco.
Commenting on ITV, commentator Sam Matterface noted that Messi was still capable of brilliance despite his advancing years.
“Lionel Messi might not be able to produce a 90-minute magic show anymore, but his sprinkling of sorcery might just be enough.”
Gvardiol was made to look inexperienced instead of one of the most promising young players in European football.
“He has just destroyed one of the World Cup’s emerging stars,” added Matterface.
Former Arsenal and England right-back Lee Dixon explained that Messi’s sudden changes of pace were key to opening up space as Croatia defenders could not stick tight to their man as he span into the box before putting on his accurate assist.
“It’s not the pace, it’s the slowing down and speeding up,” he said. “His off-the-mark pace is sensational.”
Former Rangers player and manager McCoist was perhaps the most impressed of the three pundits, suggesting that he should already be recognised as the greatest player ever.
McCoist exclaimed:”It was just genius, simple as that. That epitomises why he is one of the best ever.”
Messi also scored from the penalty spot to give Argentina the lead.
He has now scored 11 World Cup goals, becoming Argentina’s all-time leading scorer at the tournament. – Eurosport