Argentina fans celebrate World Cup final win
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BBC pundit Gary Lineker has labelled Lionel Messi ‘unbe-f***ing-lievable’ after the forward led Argentina to victory in the World Cup final on Sunday. The winner’s medal is the final string to the bow that the Paris Saint-Germain star required to be widely received as the greatest of all time.
Argentina looked like they were set to coast to victory at the Lusail Stadium, with France looking off the pace and still suffering with after-effects of a squad-wide flu to a greater extent than many expected. Messi opened the scoring in the 23rd minute from the penalty spot before Angel Di Maria capped off a counter-attack for the ages just 13 minutes later.
Against the run of play, however, Kylian Mbappe grabbed a quick-fire brace in the 80th minute and 81st to put the champagne on ice. Messi then converted from close range in extra time before Mbappe notched his hat-trick with two minutes to spare, sending the match to penalties.
Aston Villa shot-stopper Emiliano Martinez was the hero from that point onwards, with Argentina winning 4-2 to send the Argentina faithful into a frenzy. Messi impressed on the night, prompting Lineker to tweet: “Messssiiiii! Unbe-f***ing-lievable! I won’t say that on the telly.”
The result left many neutrals pleased to have seen the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner lift the World Cup for the first time in his career. At 35, it is likely to be the final time that the ex-Barcelona ace represents his nation in the competition, though Messi did assure supporters that he was not hanging up his boots internationally yet.
Despite that, his success was a moment that led many to reflect on his spectacular tweet. Lineker also tweeted: “It’s been an absolute privilege to watch Lionel Messi for nearly 2 decades. Moment after moment of spellbinding, breathtakingly joyous football.
“He’s a gift from the footballing Gods. So pleased that he’s lifted the ultimate prize in our sport. Gracias y felicidades, campeón (Thank you and congratulations, champ).”
It remains to be seen whether this victory will see Messi look to ‘wind down’ his career, especially given how Cristiano Ronaldo has fared of late, with his contract at PSG expiring at the end of the season.
The Ligue 1 outfit are expected to open extension talks with their No 30 in 2023, though Inter Miami have been heavily linked with the forward and are keen to make him the face of the MLS with a lucrative move.
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