In the build-up to Argentina’s third goal, Lionel Messi delivered a masterpiece in offensive flair while also emerging as a defensive hero.
Croatia’s Josko Gvardiol, a ru.mo.u.r.ed target for Premier League side Chelsea, has been lauded as one of the world’s best young defenders, but the 35-year-old star gave him the runaround in the build-up to Argentina’s final goal in a 3-0 triumph.
After Messi’s first-half penalty had opened the scoring, Messi stopped the ball in play with his feet and beat Gvardiol three times in the same darting run on the left side of the field, before beating the 20-year-old Croatian defender to the bye-line and setting up Julian Alvarez for his second of the night and Argentina’s third.
Lionel Messi’s assist was instrumental in setting up Argentina’s third goal against Croatia
On his route to the score, Messi twisted around Croatia’s highly regarded defender Josko Gvardiol.
ans were quick to praise Messi’s talent in setting up Argentina’s second half goal – and to comment on the ramifications for Gvardiol’s club value.
‘Messi just carelessly destroyed Gvardiol man goated stuff,’ one fan wrote, accompanying two emojis of traditional cattle, while another quipped, ‘Messi decreasing Gvardiol asking price.’ I’d love to see it,’ she said, following several laughing emojis.
Another remarked that the superstar had slashed ‘$30 million off Gvardiol’s market value with one act.
Fans praised the Argentine star’s assist while mocking Gvardiol’s rumored value.
The 20-year-old Gvardiol presently plays for Bundesliga club RB Leipzig, who turned down a €90 million bid from Chelsea in the summer. He is currently signed till 2027.
Gvardiol’s achievements during the World Cup have been lauded, but many will remember him for the moment he was humiliated by one of the game’s all-time greats.
Shireen Ahmed, a CBC Sports writer, tweeted: ‘Josko Gvardiol has been incredible throughout the tournament. However, Messi has always been Messi.’
Shireen Ahmed, a sports journalist, evaluated Gvardiol’s World Cup performance until he faced Messi.
Gvardiol, who plays for RB Leipzig in Germany, excelled during the World Cup.
Not only did the result seal their place in the grand final, but it was also a watershed moment for Messi.
With his 34th-minute penalty, the star eclipsed Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s leading World Cup scorers.
The PSG star also tied Lothar Matthaus’ all-time World Cup appearance record, which he hopes to break in Sunday’s showpiece final against either France or Morocco.
Meanwhile, Gvardiol’s Croatia will meet the losers of Wednesday’s second semi-final in the third-place play-off at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.
Messi outran Gvardiol three times along the left side of the Lusail Stadium pitch.