Alvarez and Messi steer Argentina past Croatia into World Cup final

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Argentina’s Julian Alvarez scored twice and earned a penalty converted by Lionel Messi as they swept past Croatia 3-0 on Tuesday and into the World Cup final where they will face either holders France or Morocco at the weekend.

While all eyes were on Argentina captain Messi and his fifth bid to win the one major trophy eluding him, it was Alvarez who stole the show, earning the penalty and scoring once in each half including after a scintillating 50-metre run.

Messi put away the spot kick in the 34th minute, after Alvarez was brought down by goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, to become his country’s all-time World Cup top scorer with 11 goals, before the 22-year-old Manchester City forward took matters into his own hands to add a second five minutes later.

The pair combined perfectly in the 69th for Alvarez to tap in his second goal following a mesmerising Messi drive to the byline and perfect cut-back to make sure of Argentina’s sixth World Cup final appearance.

Finalists as recently as 2014, Argentina will look to land a third world crown after victories in 1978 and 1986.

Clinching the world title would also elevate seven-time Ballon D’Or winner Messi to the mythical status that the late Diego Maradona enjoys in Argentina.

On Sunday they will face either defending champions France or surprise package Morocco, the first Arab country in a World Cup semi-final, who play each other on Wednesday.