02 Jun 2022 | 14:29 | Football
Lionel Messi (Getty Images)
Lionel Messi stole the show as Copa America hosts Argentina thrashed European champions Italy 3-0 in the final at Wembley on Wednesday.
Inspired by the unrivaled Messi, Argentina took a two-goal lead in the first half of the prestigious friendly thanks to goals from Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria.
Paulo Dybala beat Argentina, but after a disappointing season with Paris Saint-Germain by his sky-high standards, the image of Messi returning to his top form has come into the spotlight. attention.
The 34-year-old’s eye-catching performance with two assists was worthy of his rare appearance at one of football’s great cathedrals.
After the final whistle, Messi said: “Today was a great test because Italy are a great team. We knew it would be a good game and a beautiful setting to be champions. .
“It was a beautiful final, full of Argentinians. What we experienced here was beautiful.”
It was another memorable moment for Argentina, which qualified for this year’s World Cup as they extended their luster from victory over Brazil, ending a 28-year wait to win the Copa America. year 2021.
Argentina has been seen as one of the leading contenders to win the World Cup and beating Italy is another statement of intent for La Albiceleste, who are currently 32 matches unbeaten.
If Messi can play at this level in Qatar, Lionel Scaloni’s men will be a force to be reckoned with as they chase their first World Cup title since 1986.
“Things have changed after the Copa America. Now we are enjoying ourselves and things are going much easier. We are excited but we have to keep our feet on the ground,” said Di Maria. speak.
For Italy, it was a disappointing return to Wembley 11 months after they beat England on penalties in the Euro 2020 final.
Roberto Mancini’s team has fallen a lot since that achievement.
They failed to qualify for the World Cup after a humiliating loss to North Macedonia in the play-off semi-finals.
After the World Cup defeat, Mancini is transitioning to a younger generation, with upcoming Nations League matches against Germany, England and Hungary.
Mancini’s overhaul began effectively at half-time as Italy said their goodbyes to 117-cap captain, Giorgio Chiellini, who was substituted in the last game before the international break.
“They played better than us. We came into the game in the first half but were not able to turn the situation around after the break,” Mancini said.
It was only the third Finalissima final between the respective champions of Europe and South America and the first since Diego Maradona’s Argentina beat Denmark in 1993.
Rather, Messi – the heir to the legendary Maradona – used this opportunity to remind the world of his incredible talent.
The 87,000 sold-out tickets created a colorful backdrop for Messi’s virtuosity, with die-hard Argentina fans transforming the north London suburb of Brent into Buenos Aires in a jarring evening.
Every touch of Messi raised the decibel level and he played a vital role in giving Argentina the lead in the 28th minute.
Messi worked his magic on touch, displaying tremendous power to keep Giovanni Di Lorenzo at bay before delivering a precise cross to Martinez, who applied a shot from close range.
In first-half stoppage time, Martinez moved forward with great tenacity and passed a perfect pass to Di Maria, with the PSG forward finishing coldly against Donnarumma.
Di Maria came close to scoring in this hour, but his save was brilliantly crossed by Donnarumma as it darted into the far corner.
Messi was unstoppable, snatching the ball from Jorginho and performing a mesmerizing run that ended with a save from Donnarumma.
Messi’s name echoed throughout the stands as Argentina fans paid tribute to the idol’s latest masterpiece.
Dybala’s stunning strike in stoppage time came from Messi’s deft pass as the conductor provided a final flourish.