Messi leads Argentina in World Cup victory


The 2022 FIFA World Cup caused massive controversy after Qatar was named host in 2010. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Sports Editor

The 2022 FIFA World Cup finally ended after Argentina defeated juggernaut France in a penalty shootout. This would only be the third time in World Cup history that a match was decided in a penalty shootout. The lead up to the multibillion-dollar tournament was plagued with controversies after FIFA granted hosting rights to both Russia and Qatar way back in 2010. Both countries have some of the worst human right records according to Human Rights Watch. 

FIFA managed to overcome such charges such as racketeering, conspiracy and corruption brought to by the U.S. Department of Justice back in 2015 against nine high-ranking FIFA officials. Not to mention the humanitarian crisis it took for Qatar to host the World Cup, FIFA managed to squeeze out its twenty-second tournament over the span of 92 years. 

This tournament featured several monumental moments in soccer history such as Morrocco being the first African team to reach the semifinals of the World Cup, Japan beating two favorites in Spain and Germany along with FIFA’s growing reliance on technology to call games as accurately as possible. Once the dust settled after the semifinals round, France and Argentina were set to face off Dec. 18 in the aptly named Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar. 

Argentina opened the Sunday match with two goals from forward Lionel Messi in minute 23 off a penalty kick and a second goal from midfielder Angel di Maria in minute 36 of the match. France would go scoreless after 45 minutes. It was not until French forward Kylian Mbappe scored back-to-back goals in both minutes 80 and 81 of the match that France was on the board. Mbappe’s first score came after France was awarded a penalty. The second came off an assist from forward Marcus Thuram placing Mbappe well within striking distance. The match remained at a draw at the end of regulation. 

The first extra time remained scoreless pushing the match into a second extra time where Argentina scored in remarkable fashion when forward Lautaro Martinez kicked back to Messi for his second goal of the match after minute 107. France answered back in minute 118 after a hand ball foul committed by Argentinian defender Gonzalo Montiel placed the ball at the penalty marker for Mbappe. This final goal pushed the match into a penalty shootout. 

The first to take the lead was France thanks to a powerful kick from Mbappe. Following Mbappe was Messi who also nailed his attempt. French forward Kingsley Coman’s kick was blocked on the left side after Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez lunged for the ball. Argentina would go on to seal the match after scoring on the next three attempts. French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni kicked the ball wide left of the goal allowing for Argentinian midfielder Leandro Paredes and Montiel to successfully convert their attempts. Argentina won in penalties 4-2. 

This is only Messi’s first World Cup victory since joining the Argentinian men’s team back in 2005. Over his career at the World cup level, Messi has scored 13 goals and six assists over the span of 26 matches.  

“The truth is that it was made to be desired but the most beautiful thing there is,” said Messi during a postgame interview with TyC Sports. “I just said that God was going to give (FIFA World Cup Trophy) to me, I was sure, and I had a feeling that this was the moment. We suffered a lot, but we made it and now is the time to enjoy. Obviously, I want to continue playing a few more games being world champion.” 

The next FIFA World Cup will be held in North America after Canada, Mexico and the U.S. held a shared bid for the tournament in 2026. Games will be held in Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Miami. The games will most likely revert to the summer after the insurmountable heat forced the tournament into November and December. Thanks to the host status granted by FIFA, all three host nations will participate in the 2026 FIFA World Cup. 

All statistics are provided by FIFA and Fox Sports. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram