Joyous Argentina fans packed the streets of Buenos Aires in their thousands after watching Lionel Messi and Co secure a place in the World Cup final on Tuesday night.  La Albiceleste reached their sixth final after cruising past Croatia by three goals at the Lusail Stadium, where Messi and Julian Alvarez turned on the style to set up a showdown with either France or Morocco this Sunday.

However, it was the Argentina captain who stole the show in Qatar by registering his fifth goal of the tournament taking him past Gabriel Batistuta as the country’s all-time top scorer before teeing up Alvarez with the most sublime of assists. Alvarez, the Manchester City forward, was outstanding as Lionel Scanoli’s side swaggered to victory, winning the penalty for Messi’s opener before going on to score twice himself.

The 35-year-old turned Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol inside out twice before leaving him for dead and squaring to Alvarez, who coolly swept home their third of the night. It was a slick and efficient night’s work for Argentina, and back home in their capital city fans swarmed the streets to celebrate their success.

Astonishing images from Buenos Aires’ Plaza de la Repúblic on Tuesday show hundreds of thousands of supporters packing out the city’s famous Obelisk monument in sky blue and white. Once the dust settles on their semi-final win, Argentina attention will turn quickly to Sunday’s all-important final back at the Lusail Stadium. Either France or Morocco, who go head to head on Wednesday night in Al Khor, will be standing in their way of a first World Cup since 1986 this weekend.

Messi masks, painted faces, flags and a Diego Maradona lookalike were all spotted amongst the crowd as the Argentina faithful partied long into the night after their triumph in Qatar. ‘This squad goes beyond the collective. It’s intelligent and clever. We can read games and we know how to suffer when necessary and what to do with the ball when it’s needed. We have played excellent technical football.’

But Messi insists he does not fear anyone at this stage and is instead raring to go ahead of his second final. ‘I am enjoying this World Cup a lot. I am feeling really good and strong enough to face anything,’ he said after seeing off Croatia. ‘It wasn’t easy. We were tired but we found our strength to earn the victory. We finished the game in a very good way and I feel very happy now.


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