Qatar hosted one of the most successful FIFA World Cups in history as it engaged fans all across the globe and the icing on the cake was Lionel Messi lifting the trophy at the end of it. Before the commencement of the tournament, Qatar faced a lot of criticism as several migrant workers lost their lives while working on the sites to build the stadiums. Qatar’s top World Cup official Hassan Al-Thawadi said that more than 400 migrant workers died in labour accidents in the Gulf state in the years leading up to the tournament.
However, fans came in massive numbers to support their favourite teams in the World Cup. The teams from Arab nations enjoyed massive support while fans from different parts of the world came to Qatar to support Argentina as it was Messi’s last World Cup.
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Here are the top moments from the 2022 FIFA World Cup:
Saudi Arabia Stunned Argentina
The tournament kickstarted with Qatar vs Ecuador clash but it was the fifth match of the edition where Saudi Arabia stunned South American giants Argentina with a 1-2 victory. Saudi shocked the footballing world as La Albiceleste entered the World Cup with a 36-match winning streak. Messi scored the opening goal of the match in the first half but Argentine defenders had a lapse of concentration in the starting 10 minutes of the second half and Saudi took complete advantage of it by scoring two quick goals. Several fans started doubting Messi and Argentina after the defeat but they bounced back emphatically to scrip history.
Japan Outclassed European Giants
Ahead of the tournament, majority of fans were rooting for Germany and Spain to move ahead from Group E but Asia’s Japan had some other plans as they lit up Qatar with their sensational performances. Hajime Moriyasu’s men didn’t play the most beautiful football but they were extremely effective when it came to defending against Spain and Germany to outclass them. Moriyasu formed a compact defensive line which didn’t allow the European giants to break the deadlock as a result Japan ended the group stage at the top of the table while Spain finished second. Unfortunately, Germany failed to make it round of 16 as La Roja had a better goal difference than them.
Lionel Messi Switched GOD Mode in Knockout Matches
After losing the opening match to Saudi Arabia, several people started doubting Messi and Argentina but they somehow managed to finish at the top of their group. However, Messi switched GOD mode on in the knockout stage and carried Argentina on his shoulders to help them reach the final. He scored a crucial goal against Australia in the Round of 16 match and then followed it up with a sensational assist in the Netherlands clash which was rated as the best of the tournament by many. He scored from the penalty spot in the quarters and then celebrated in front of Dutch manager Loius Van Gaal who made some comments about the PSG forward which didn’t go down well with him. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner didn’t stop there as he once again scored and provided an assist in the semifinal against Croatia.
The stakes were sky high in the finale and Messi rose to the occasion once again and scored a brace as Argentina lifted the trophy after beating France on penalties. Messi became the first player in FIFA World Cup history to score in every knockout game of a single edition of the tournament. He was also named Player of the Match in every knockout match of Argentina.
The Atlas Lions Roared in Qatar
Morocco’s Qatar World Cup journey is one of the best underdog stories in the tournament’s history. Walid Regragui’s men put in the Group of Death in Qatar as Belgium, Croatia and Canada were also part of the same group. The Atlas Lions produced a brave show in the group stage and remained unbeaten as they qualified for the round of 16 after topping the tough group as the golden generation of Belgium failed to get through.
Morocco continued the glorious run in the knockout stage as they beat title favourites Spain in the round of 16 match. They followed it up with a crucial victory over Portugal in the quarterfinals which proved that their previous performances weren’t flukes. They lost the semifinal to 2018 champions France but that was also not a one-sided affair as Morocco dominated the possession with 62 per cent but the French wall was too solid for them.
Before the start of the tournament, fans were familiar with the likes of Achraf Hakimi and Hakim Ziyech from the Moroccon side but when their journey ended players like Azzedine Ounahi, Sofyan Amrabat, Youssef En-Nesyri and Yassine Bounou became familiar names as their market value increased massively.
Messi-Mbappe Show at World Cup Final
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner scored a brace while French star and Messi’s club teammate Kylian Mbappe hit a hat-trick as a thrilling World Cup final finished 3-3 after extra time at the Lusail Stadium. It was a finale where Argentina completely dominated the first 79 minutes of the game with a 2-0 lead but a Nicholas Otamendi foul inside the box completely changed the script of the game as Mbappe scored his first goal from the penalty spot. Within 97 seconds, Mbapped netted a world class-goal to level the scoreline.
Messi worked his magic in the 108th minute of the extra time to score the third goal for Argentina but Mbappe cancelled it again with a penalty in the 118th to make it an all-time thrilling contest in FIFA World Cup final history.
Emiliano Martinez Wins it For Messi and Argentina
Emiliano Martinez pulled off probably the most crucial saves of his footballing career in the 123rd minute of the Qatar Mundial finale. In the dying minute of the match, Randal Kolo Muani was 1-on-1 in front of Martinez and he took the shot in the quest to defend the championship for France but the Aston Villa goalkeeper stretched his legs and the ball hit the left one as Argentine fans had a massive sigh of relief.
The match went to a penalty shootout where Martinez stood tall once again and saved Kingsley Coman’s shot, while Aurélien Tchouaméni missed the target as Argentina defeated France 4-2 on penalties. Gonzalo Montiel held his nerves and stroked home the winning spot-kick for Argentina as they clinched their third World Cup while Messi fulfilled his childhood dream to get his hands on the coveted trophy.
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