'Congratulations brother' - Neymar leads tributes for Messi after Argentina beat France in World Cup final Featured

By Sports Desk December 18, 2022 727

Lionel Messi is a World Cup winner at the fifth and final attempt, after Argentina held their nerve to defeat France in one of the greatest matches in tournament history.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, who claimed a second Golden Ball with his brace, saw off domestic team-mate Kylian Mbappe, who bagged only the second-ever hat-trick in men's final history, to win in Doha.

La Albiceleste appeared to have wrapped up the prize after goals for Messi and Angel Di Maria in the first half, but were made to work for their triumph after France rose from the canvas to force extra-time – and then penalties again after a 3-3 draw.

But Argentina delivered in the shoot-out, winning it 4-2 to end a 36-year drought for football's biggest prize, and confirming one of their true legends adds the biggest accolade of all to his trophy cabinet.

Messi's long-awaited success at the tournament was widely celebrated by players and peers across the game, with Paris Saint-Germain colleague Neymar saluting him on social media.

"Congratulations brother," he posted on Twitter.

Romario, who like Messi won the Golden Ball and the World Cup trophy in the same tournament when he did so with Brazil in 1994, mentioned Argentina legend Diego Maradona, with this the first tournament since his passing in November 2020.

"I'm sure my friend Maradona is happy to see this victory, as are his people," Romario said on Twitter. "Congratulations Argentina!

"Argentina were better on the field and Messi received the title he was missing today, that of world champion for his country."

Andrea Pirlo, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, stated: "Great final... congratulations to Messi and Argentina!"

Jerome Boateng started for Germany against Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final, when a 113th-minute Mario Gotze winner condemned Messi's side to defeat.

Having watched Messi come back from that devastating loss to finally get his hands on international football's top prize, Boateng spoke of his joy at watching him finally lift the trophy.

"Congratulations Lionel Messi and Argentina. Finally you got the trophy you truly deserve," Boateng said.

Former Barcelona colleague Dani Alves was delighted for Messi on Instagram, stating: "Football loves you and those of us who love football respect you and congratulate you right now for that moment.

"Enjoy it with your family. As a Brazilian and as a South American, I know that's more than winning that cup."

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Last modified on Monday, 19 December 2022 08:17
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