Messi smashes World Cup records, equals Maradona’s mark in win over Croatia
Lionel Messi has made history by becoming the first player to both score and assist in four separate World Cup matches. He accomplished his latest feat during Argentina’s semi-final victory against Croatia in Qatar.
The 35-year-old had equaled a long-standing World Cup record even before his first touch as he joined Germany’s Lothar Matthaus on 25 appearances at the tournament — a mark he is now certain to beat in the final on Sunday, barring injury.
Messi then opened the scoring for Argentina with an unstoppable penalty into the top corner, a goal that saw him become Argentina’s outright leading goalscorer at World Cups, moving clear of Gabriel Batistuta on 11 goals overall.
More records were to come for the Paris Saint-Germain man, though, as he produced a moment of magic to assist Argentina’s third of the night, turning Josko Gvardiol inside out before laying the ball off for Julian Alvarez to net his second of the night.
In doing so, Messi became the first player since records began in 1966 to register both a goal and an assist in four separate World Cup games, three of which have now come in Qatar 2022.
The assist also saw the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner equal his compatriot Diego Maradona’s all-time World Cup record of eight assists in the competition.
On top of that, Messi has now been involved in 19 World Cup goals, scoring 11 and creating eight more, equaling the record jointly held by Miroslav Klose, Ronaldo, and Gerd Muller since records began in 1966.
Messi’s man-of-the-match display saw him inspire La Albiceleste into the second World Cup final of his career, where they will face either France or Morocco on Sunday. France and Morocco will be in action on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s win meant Argentina continue with their impressive record of never being eliminated from the World Cup in the semi-final as they have now progressed to the final on the six occasions that they have gone this far at a World Cup.
They have only won the World Cup twice though – in 1978 and 1986 – and will be hoping to return home with the trophy after failing to do so on their last three visits to the final, the fifth and most recent of which came in the 2014 tournament in Brazil where they lost to Germany.