What began as 32 nations chasing World Cup dominance has now been whittled down to four teams, each with the hope of bringing the FIFA Cup back home. On day one of the two scheduled semifinals, Argentina secured the coveted first spot in the FIFA World Cup finale.
Argentina and Croatia knocked their opponents, the Netherlands and Brazil, out of the quarterfinals with four penalty goal wins. The countries have faced each other five times before, registering two wins each.
The Croats appeared to be keeping the Argentines at bay for much of the first half, but none of their four shots at goal found the target, and their superior possession did not stop Argentine lead player Lionel Messi. With a record 11th goal at the World Cup for Argentina, Messi opened the scoring for the Albicelestes in the 34th minute with a penalty kick awarded after goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic brought down Julián Álvarez. Álvarez’s next attempt at a goal found the net in the 39th minute with a bold play that put Argentina firmly ahead of the Croats.
Multiple free kicks in the second half did not convert into goals for Croatia, and a play set up by Messi provided Álvarez with his second goal for the day in the 69th minute, sealing Croatia’s semifinal defeat with a 3-0 victory. The Argentines head to the final on Sunday against an opponent, which will be decided after Morocco’s match against France on Wednesday.
Watch the Highlights below.