Messi writes a brilliant closing chapter to a singular career

Alwin McGill in Qatar

By Aldwyn McGill

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 came to a dramatic end after Argentina defeated France 4-2 on penalty kicks in the final at Lusail Stadium. To say it was a game of momentum changes would be an understatement.

Argentina dominated the run of play for the entire first half and after a 2-0 lead at halftime found themselves holding onto the ropes late in the match with the score level at 2-2 apiece. However, most knowledgeable soccer fans know that the third goal is very important to enjoy an almost insurmountable lead and France players knew that also.

France was not playing well and had no answer for the questions Lionel Messi and his Argentina attack were asking for the

Messi caresssing the trophy

better part of 79 minutes. However, it was game on when Argentina’s lead was cut in half in the 80th minute when Kylian Mbappe scored a penalty.

Ironically it was just one of many turning points in a game that the commentators began attributing France’s dismal showing to the players brush with the flu bug.  However, what transpired next was not the performance of a team which suffered any side effects as Mbappe scored again on a volley from close range that sent the game into overtime tied 2-2.

The unbelievable turn of events created a roller coaster of emotions for everyone who was a part of the game. Argentina needed the overtime break to regroup and change the momentum while France was hoping to continue the attack and be aware of a team with Messi in its lineup.  

The overtime period saw Messi reinventing the wheel by turning the momentum back in Argentina’s favor by making a pass out

Kylian Mbappe

to the right flank and finished the play with any part of his body that was available to put the ball into the back of the net.

After watching the replay, it seemed like Messi’s right thigh connected after he attempted to use the inside of his right foot. Whatever the scenario the touch he used was golden and gave Argentina a 3-2 lead with time becoming their ally.  

However, just as everyone thought that Messi had given Argentina the world cup, it was Kylian Mbappe’s turn when he scored a penalty that tied the game 3-3 with just two minutes left in overtime. It was Mbappe’s second penalty against goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, regarded as a penalty specialist heading into the final.   

Both teams blew excellent scoring chances in the dying minutes of the game with Mbappe going for the heroics just seconds before the final whistle after choosing to dribble a third defender instead of shooting from within the six-yard box.

It came down to the dreaded penalty kicks, which usually favour the underdog team, to decide the winner. The only dilemma

Lionel Messi & Argentina raise the trophy

was having to determine which team was the underdog heading into penalty kicks.  The challenge for France was that Mbappe was just one of their (five) penalty kickers facing Emiliano Martinez. the best penalty saving goalkeeper at the world cup in.

It must also be noted that while the substitutions did change the momentum of the game in France’s favor it is not clear if penalty kicks were their specialty.  As for Argentina with the 12th man advantage and an intimidating goalkeeper in Martinez, they held a 2-1 advantage after just the second round of kicks enroute to a 4-2 win on penalty kicks.

The final match was emblematic of the entire FIFA World Cup in Qatar when it comes to its historical nature. It will be written as the day Lionel Messi’s won the world cup trophy which had eluded him during his illustrious career.

It was indeed a Kodak moment to watch the best football player on the planet holding the world cup for the first time with the support of the best fans at the world cup.  So let the script be written that Lionel Messi was destined to lift football’s most coveted trophy after entertaining the world with his brilliance for close to two decades.

Congratulations is definitely in order to Argentina and Lionel Messi, with high praise to Qatar Supreme Committee for hosting one of the best FIFA World Cups.