FIFA World Cup winner Lionel Messi was left teary-eyed with joy as the devoted Argentine populace gathered together at the Monumental to welcome the champions back to their homeland for their first game since the epic win in Qatar that engraved their name in the annals of football history.
Messi couldn’t hold back his emotions as 83,000 Albiceleste fans crooned in unison as the team lined up ahead of their kick-off against Panama in a friendly in Buenos Aires.
Lionel Messi in tears 😢What a moment as Argentina welcomes back its World Cup winners. pic.twitter.com/Pn9lHAw7uV
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 23, 2023
Argentina beat Panama in the friendly 2-0 with goals from Thiago Almada and Messi, who netted his 800th career goal with his late free-kick.
It was only befitting that the magician from Rosario gave the Argentine crowd what they flocked in to see- their main man scoring and celebrating with unadulterated joy.
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The match was viewed more as a celebration of a team that brought back the World Cup after an extended wait of nearly four decades since the glory days of Diego Maradona, who last took the South American nation to the pinnacle of the sporting world back in the year 1986 in Mexico.
Argentina stood tall in Qatar thanks to a masterful display throughout the tournament from Messi, who also picked up the player of the tournament award along with the biggest prize in world football.
He also ranked second in the list of goal scorers in the FIFA World Cup 2022, only behind French superstar Kylian Mbappe.
After a loss to Saudi Arabia in their opening World Cup fixture, Lionel Scaloni turned things around as they went on to win the coveted trophy by winning every game that they contested following their opening day horror show.
Argentina got the better of Poland and Mexico in their remaining group games before knocking out Australia in the Round of 16. They survived a scare against The Netherlands in the quarters, before convincingly beating Croatia 3-0 in the semi-final.
Messi got his crowning moment as he led his country to a 4-2 win on penalties after the match was tied at 3-3 after extra time.
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