‘One of the best games of all time’: Argentina celebrates World Cup win – as Messi hints on future plans

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Argentinian fans have been celebrating through the night after their team won the World Cup in what some commentators have described as one of the best games in the history of the tournament.

The side beat defending champions France 4-2 on penalties after drawing 3-3 after extra time in front of a 88,000-strong crowd in Qatar.

Fans who had travelled to the Middle East cheered as the players were driven by open-top bus through the streets outside Lusail Stadium.

A bus with the celebrating Argentina players, who wave to their fans, travels from the Lusail Stadium after they won the World Cup Final defeating France on penalties, in Lusail, Qatar, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)
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A bus with the celebrating Argentina players in Lusail, Qatar

In the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, hundreds of thousands of people celebrated their team’s first world championship since 1986.

It was a rare moment of joy for a country struggling with high inflation and an economic crisis that has pushed some 40% of the population into poverty.

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Jubilant scenes in Argentina

Rogelio Vazquez, an Argentinian fan, said: “We could have won it comfortably, but we were forced to suffer, like always.

“But the suffering makes the win all the more enjoyable.”

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Diego Aburgeily, 46, another fan, said: “This team made people fall in love with them for the first time in decades.”

The star of the game was Argentinian captain Lionel Messi, who scored twice at the Lusail Stadium, and was crowned player of the tournament.

Messi, 35, later quashed rumours that he might be about to retire from the sport, telling Argentinian TV: “I want to keep experiencing a few more matches as world champion.

“I knew God would bring this gift to me, I had the feeling that this World Cup was the one.

“It took so long, but here it is. We suffered a lot, but we managed to do it.

“Can’t wait to be in Argentina to witness the insanity of this.”

But he was not the tournament’s top scorer – that honour belonged to Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, who scored eight goals, including a hat-trick in the final, winning him the Golden Boot award.

Jubilant scenes in Buenos Aires after Argentina win World Cup

After the match, several UK sports commentators said the final would go down in history as one of the greatest games of football ever.

Jamie Carragher tweeted: “One of the best games of all time!”

Alan Shearer said: “We’re breathless up here. It was just an unbelievable final. It was great to be here, a pleasure to be here.

“I’ve never seen anything like it and I don’t think I’ll ever see anything like it again. It was staggering.”

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‘This night is wonderful’

Gary Lineker said: “It’s been an absolute privilege to watch Lionel Messi for nearly two decades.

“Moment after moment of spellbinding, breathtakingly joyous football. He’s a gift from the footballing Gods.”

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Gary Neville said: “Messi should be the centre of attention and it feels right that he has won a World Cup.

“It feels like destiny was there for him and he’s contributed enormous amounts during this tournament.”

France's President Emmanuel Macron commiserates France's Kylian Mbappe. Pic: AP
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France’s President Emmanuel Macron consoles Kylian Mbappe. Pic: AP

For the French fans, there was disappointment, and President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “Congratulations to the French team for its career and its combativeness in this World Cup.

“You have thrilled the nation and supporters around the world. Congratulations to Argentina for their victory.”

Read more:
Hundreds of thousands of fans pour onto streets of Buenos Aires after Argentina beat France
The rest of Messi’s career will play out with satisfaction – however long he stays on the pitch

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Final - Argentina v France - Lusail Stadium, Lusail, Qatar - December 18, 2022 Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates alongside Nicolas Otamendi, Lautaro Martinez and teammates after winning the World Cup REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The match wrapped up what had been one of the most controversial World Cups in history – with pre-tournament rows raging over the treatment of migrant workers, LGBT+ rights and the shift of the tournament to winter to avoid the baking summer heat.

The next World Cup finals will be held in the US, Mexico and Canada – the first time the tournament will have been co-hosted since Japan and South Korea in 2002.

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