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Roy Keane runs out of words for Lionel Messi as Argentina reach World Cup final

Messi turned in a a man-of-the-match display in Tuesday’s Lusail Stadium semi-final, as Argentina thumped Croatia 3-0 in a thrilling performance.

ealed with a kiss ... Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Semi Final - Argentina v Croatia - Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar - December 13, 2022 Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates after Julian Alvarez scores their third goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach© REUTERS

Kevin PalmerSunday World

It’s not often Roy Keane is lost for words when he is watching a player in action, but he struggled to compliment Lionel Messi after he inspired Argentina to reach another World Cup final.

Messi turned in a a man-of-the-match display in Tuesday’s Lusail Stadium semi-final, as Argentina thumped Croatia 3-0 in a thrilling performance.

The 35-year-old is one of the greatest to ever grace the field and will get his shot at glory against France or Morocco back at Lusail Stadium in what looks set to be his last appearance on the world stage.

Messi scored from the spot before Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez ended a driven solo run with a cool finish, then benefitted from a brilliant assist by the skipper in a 3-0 semi-final win against Croatia.

The Paris St Germain star finished as World Cup runner-up in 2014 and his determination to finally get his hands on the trophy has been clear in Qatar, where thousands have flocked to cheer him in that quest.

Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia had begun the brighter in Lusail, only for Dominik Livakovic to clumsily bring down Alvarez and see Messi slam the resulting spot-kick past him.

Alvarez put Lionel Scaloni’s side further ahead before half-time, having raced from inside his own half to coolly direct home after benefitting from a couple of deflections and some weak defending.

"It's a pleasure to watch him live, it really is,” Keane told ITV Sport. “You run out of things to say about him. Fantastic.

"Obviously, we played at a really good level but the level he's at, at his age, even the third goal he's doing that against some brilliant players, some really good players.

"Honestly it's brilliant, absolutely fantastic, what a player. And do you know what? I really hope he goes on to win the World Cup.

"I think that would be the icing on the cake for the man, he's just fantastic, consistency.

"Listen, we'll be here all night talking about the awards that he's won."

Gary Neville suggested it “feels like a mission” for Messi to win the World Cup at last.

"The rest of his team are so collective around him in the way they are playing,” said the former Manchester United defender.

"They are keeping a clean sheet and saying he will go and win it.

"The rest of them are putting in a massive, massive shift for him, and that’s what he needs.

"At PSG there’s two or three others up there, and to be fair you can’t carry three, four of them without the ball.

“You can carry one without the ball, and that’s what Argentina are doing, so well done to those other players, incredible in terms of what they’re doing.”

Argentina will return to Lusail to face France or Morocco on Sunday, when their captain can crown a glittering career with glory in what looks set to be his last appearance on the world stage.

“Well, what I can say is that I am enjoying this a lot,” 35-year-old Messi said with a smile. “I am feeling really good.

“This is what we’ve been doing in every match. The previous match was a big sacrifice and we went into extra time. That wasn’t easy.

“Today we were tired but we pulled our strengths to earn this victory.

“We played very well. We knew that we would play this way. We prepared this a lot because we knew they wouldn’t have the ball because we would need to run in this match and then keep our chances.

“So, as I say, I think we prepared this match in a very good way, as we always do.

“And, personally, I can say that I feel very happy in this whole World Cup. I am enjoying it a lot and luckily enough I am able to help my whole squad to make things happen.”


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