The Argentinean ten finally won the long-awaited World Cup that has made him a household name in his country and globally

Messi emulates Maradona

PHOTO/AFP - Lionel Messi celebrates with his Argentinian teammates after winning the World Cup in Qatar

The moment has arrived. Lionel Messi, considered by many to be the best player in history, achieved the title he was missing to be able to look at the great historical stars, such as his clearest reference, Diego Armando Maradona: the World Cup. 

In his fifth participation, Lionel Messi won the World Cup crown, along with the recognition of best player of the tournament and of the final after scoring seven goals (two of them in the final and four on penalties in the tournament overall) and three assists during the competition. As top scorer at the Qatar World Cup, he was second only to France's Kylian Mbappé, who scored eight goals, including three in the final.  

The Argentinian star thus equals the greatest of the greats with the great title he was missing with Argentina after winning the last Copa America. Messi now has a World Cup and a runner-up finish, just like Maradona.  

All this after a historic final between Argentina and France in Qatar, 3-3 at the end of regulation time and extra time, with the two stars unleashed, Messi and Mbappé, and a heart-stopping penalty shoot-out in which the two ten players from both teams did not miss, but in which the rest of Argentina's players showed a solidity and steadiness that other French penalty takers such as Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni lacked in front of the towering figure of Emiliano Martinez in the Argentina goal.  

Argentina won their third World Cup, long awaited since the last one in 1986 with Diego Armando Maradona as their standard bearer and absolute star, and thus overtook France, who remain with two stars. It was one of the things that was up for grabs in the final played in Doha, the sceptre of best player in the world and possible winner of the next Ballon d'Or, which Messi and Mbappé disputed, and the title of world champion, which broke the tie between France and Argentina in the historical classification.  

In the end, it all went Argentina's way as they dominated the first 75 minutes of the match against a bewildered France. Angel Di Maria and Lionel Messi were a nightmare for the French defence and Enzo Fernandez, Rodrigo De Paul and Alexis MacAllister were imposing in midfield against Aurelien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot.  

The gestures of the French players were indicative of everything, they were berating each other when it came to pressing and they were unable to get hold of the ball or do any damage on the counter against an always tidy Argentina side. The South American team controlled possession and found space with touch and verticality to hurt the European team and so came the first two goals. In the first one, Di Maria ran down the flank and with his characteristic verticality was brought down in the box by Ousmane Dembele, in an innocent penalty committed by the French winger, who is not used to defending in such positions. The penalty was converted by Messi in the 23rd minute. Then came the second goal in the 36th minute. Di Maria, who continued to be a nightmare for the French side, finished off an excellent counter-attack led by Messi, Julian Alvarez and MacAllister, which tore the French defence apart. 


France were still not in the final and coach Didier Deschamps had to make a change as Argentina's Lionel Scaloni's approach was getting the better of them.  

The French coach made two changes, replacing Olivier Giroud and Dembele before half-time with Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram, which showed that things were not working.  

And so it went to the break. In the second half, it was more of the same, with Argentina dominating and France inoperative, with Mbappé disconnected. That was until the French ten woke up with a quarter of an hour to go.  

A combination in the box ended with a needless penalty from Nicolas Otamendi on Muani, which Mbappé converted in the 79th minute. And almost two minutes later came a real goal from the French star, who volleyed low past Emiliano Martinez to equalise from almost nothing.  

France pressed until the 90th minute and came close to taking the game on the strength of some good work from Mbappé and Coman, who had also come on late on.  

In extra time, Argentina rallied and had a lot of presence in the box in the first part of stoppage time. Lautaro Martinez, who had replaced Julian Alvarez, had two clear-cut chances that were blocked by goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.  

But it was Messi who struck again in the 107th minute after a great combination in the box that ended with the Argentine star finishing with a delightful finish. That was not the end of the story, though, as Mbappé's final reaction came in the 117th minute when he scored his third goal of the match, this one from the penalty spot after Gonzalo Montiel's handball in the area. 


There was time for one last stellar move from the French striker, who beat up to four players in the box to unleash a powerful shot that was blocked by Paulo Dybala when it could have been France's and Mbappé's fourth goal and France's ecstasy. 

In the end, 3-3 and it was a penalty shoot-out. The stars, the key players, Mbappé and Messi opened the shootout and did not miss. For Argentina, Dybala, Leandro Paredes and Montiel then scored, and for France, Muani, but Tchouameni, who shot wide, and Coman, whose shot was saved by Martinez, missed.  

Messi was crowned king of world football in Qatar against Kylian Mbappé. Precisely, in front of the emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, owner of Paris Saint Germain, where both stars play in a sporting project that seeks once and for all to be crowned in Europe.