Lionel Messi (L) of Argentina celebrates with head coach Lionel Scaloni after winning the Semifinal between Argentina and Croatia at the 2022 FIFA World Cup at Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Dec. 13, 2022. (Xinhua/Pan Yulong)
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said his side still has one step ahead of them after reaching the World Cup final with a 3-0 victory over Croatia.
LUSAIL, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said his team would enjoy muted celebrations after reaching the World Cup final with a 3-0 victory over Croatia on Tuesday.
Julian Alvarez scored a brace and Lionel Messi converted a penalty as Argentina won their fifth consecutive match at this tournament after starting with a shock defeat to Saudi Arabia.
"We'll celebrate because we know it's exciting to advance to the final," Scaloni said after the semifinal. "But we still have one step ahead of us. It's a historic moment that we need to enjoy but that's it. We need to focus on the upcoming match."
Scaloni heaped praise on Messi, who now has five goals and three assists at this tournament. His strike here saw him surpass Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina's all-time leading World Cup scorer with 11 goals.
"Of course we say that Messi is [the best player ever] and maybe we are narrow-minded because as an Argentine, it's enjoyable. But I have no doubt that he is the best," he said.
"I have been saying it for a long time. I'm honored to see him train and play. It's exciting because every time you see him play it's a huge source of motivation for Argentinians. It's a privilege to have him in our squad."
Scaloni also thanked the tens of thousands of Argentinian fans present at Lusail stadium, many of whom began singing hours before the 10pm kick-off and finished well beyond midnight.
"I have the dream job of all Argentines," he said. "Our people were supporting us throughout and you could feel it. It was unforgettable. We're all pushing in the same direction and we're grateful for to them." ■