Argentina’s talisman and captain was in sparkling form during his side’s semifinal clash at Lusail Stadium.
Lionel Messi produced a magical display to inspire Argentina to a 3-0 win over Croatia and fire his side into Sunday’s World Cup final.
Messi, 35, put his side 1-0 ahead from the penalty spot in the 34th minute at the Lusail Stadium on Tuesday after fellow forward Julian Alvarez was brought down by goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.
His searing strike saw him become Argentina’s all-time World Cup top scorer with 11 goals before Alvarez took matters into his own hands to add a second five minutes later following a stunning solo run.
The pair combined again for Argentina’s third, in the 69th minute, when Messi toyed with Croatia’s Josko Gvardiol out wide before driving past him into the box and laying on a pass for Alvarez to slot home.
Croatia, for all their control of the ball, were toothless throughout and registered just a single shot on target.
Argentina eye third World Cup win
Argentina, World Cup finalists as recently as 2014, will now look to land a third world crown after victories in 1978 and 1986.
Clinching the trophy would also elevate seven-time Ballon D’Or winner Messi to the mythical status that the late Diego Maradona enjoys in the South American country.
On Sunday they will face either defending champions France or surprise package Morocco, the first Arab and African country to make it to a World Cup semi-final, who play each other on Wednesday at Al Bayt Stadium.
The final will be played at the 88,000-capacity Lusail Stadium.