Martinez reaches World Cup final with Argentina

Tuesday 13 December 2022 21:29

Lisandro Martinez is Manchester United's first 2022 World Cup finalist, after Argentina beat Croatia 3-0 in the semi-final on Tuesday (13 December) evening.

The South Americans have made the final two for the first time since 2014, when they were beaten in extra time by Germany. 

Martinez began the game on the bench, but he entered the fray just after the 60-minute mark, with Lionel Scaloni moving his team to five at the back to preserve their two-goal lead at the time. 

La Albiceleste's talisman Lionel Messi scored another penalty while Julian Alvarez also notched a brace, as the 2018 runners-up advanced to Sunday’s showpiece finale, set to played against either Raphael Varane's France or Morocco. 

Lisandro Martinez came on for Argentina in the semi-final, and helped ensure Lionel Scaloni's side kept a clean sheet.
It was a lively last-four encounter at the Lusail Stadium, with both sides eager to take another step towards World Cup glory.

Neither side was able to carve out any real clear-cut chances in the opening half-hour, though, with Enzo Fernandez coming the closest after his long-range strike forced a great save from Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic. 

Just moments later, the South Americans were awarded a penalty. Alvarez found himself in behind the defence, before colliding with shot-stopper Livakovic, leaving the referee no choice but to point to the spot and book the goalkeeper.

As has been the case already in Qatar, up stepped captain Messi. The Argentina no.10 thumped his spot-kick into the top corner, giving Livakovic no chance, despite him guessing the right way. 
It didn't take La Albiceleste long to extended their lead to two, this time through Alvarez.

The Manchester City attacker picking up the ball in his own half before driving toward the opposition’s goal. He got a small stroke of luck as the defenders failed to clear the ball, leaving him to poke it beyond an onrushing Livakovic. 

Heading into half-time, Argentina were firmly in control of this semi-final tie and just 45 minutes away from reaching the final.
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And it was after the restart that Scaloni called upon United defender Martinez. Our no.6 was introduced 15 minutes into the second half, joining the backline to help see out the game. 

While Croatia created a handful of chances to get back into the game, they never really looked like scoring, lacking the killer instinct that had established Argentina's lead. 

And a moment of magic from Messi in the 70th minute would seal their fate. The Paris Saint-Germain star made a dazzling run to the byline, dancing past defenders, before putting it on a plate for Alvarez, who simply had to pass the ball into the net for his second goal of the evening. 
Argentina are into the 2022 World Cup final!
Scaloni’s side controlled the final moments of the game comfortably, and the defence - bolstered by Martinez's introduction - remained resilient and repelled any further Croatia opportunties.

They now face the prospect of playing Raphael Varane’s France or Morocco in the final, with those two nations facing off in the second semi-final on Wednesday (14 December) at 19:00 GMT.