Fans hail Lionel Messi’s sensational assist for Argentina’s third goal against Croatia

Lionel Messi put on a masterclass of attacking flair in the build-up to Argentina’s third goal – and showing up a defensive hero in the process.

Croatia’s Josko Gvardiol – a rumoured target for Premier League side Chelsea – has been hailed as one of the world’s best defenders, but he was run around three times by the 35-year-old Argentine star for Argentina’s final goal in a 3-0 win.

Messi stopped the ball in play, and turned around Gvardiol three times, before beating the Croatian defender to the bye-line and setting up Julian Alvarez for his second of the night, after Messi’s first-half penalty opened the scoring.

Fans were quick to praise Messi’s skill in the set-up of Argentina’s second half goal – and to comment on the knock-on impact it will have on Gvardiol’s club value.

One fan tweeted: ‘Messi just casually destroyed Gvardiol man goated stuff’, alongside two emojis of the traditional livestock, while another said: ‘Messi lowering Gvardiol asking price. Love to see it’ alongside some laughter emojis.

Another joked that the superstar had wiped ’30m off of Gvardiol’s market value with that move’.

The 20-year-old Gvardiol currently plays for Bundesliga side RB Leipzig, who rejected a €90m offer for him in the summer as Chelsea tried to bring the young star to Stamford Bridge. He is currently under contract until 2027.

Gvardiol’s performances throughout the World Cup have been hailed, but many people will now remember him for the time when he was shown up by one of the world’s all-time greats.

CBC Sports journalist Shireen Ahmed tweeted: ‘Josko Gvardiol has been immense all tournament. But Messi has … always been Messi.’

The match was a monumental one for Messi, who surpassed Gabriel Batistuta to become Argentina’s top World Cup goalscorer with his 34th minute penalty.

The PSG star also equalled Lothar Matthaus’s all-time appearances at the World Cup finals, and would expect to break that record in Sunday’s showpiece final against either France or Morocco.

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