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Watch: Messi hails Argentina character after winning through to World Cup final

A delighted Lionel Messi hailed his side’s strength of character after he starred in Tuesday’s 3-0 World Cup semi-final win over Croatia.

Messi scored the opener from the penalty spot and then had a hand in two goals scored by Julian Alvarez at Lusail Stadium as Argentina eased through to Sunday’s final where they will face either France or Morocco.

The victory continued a remarkable turnaround from Lionel Scaloni’s team after they started their campaign in Qatar with a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia.

“I think the first match was a very tough blow for us because we had been 36 games unbeaten,” said Messi, who spoke to reporters after being named man of the match.

“To start in that way when nobody expected us to lose was a real test for this group of players. But we showed how strong we are.

“What we have done since then was really difficult because every game has been a final.

“We have played five finals, won them all, and let’s hope we win the next one.”

Messi added: “This group has strength of character but is also so intelligent. We have a team that is capable of reading games, that knows how to suffer when they have to suffer. We have a great coaching staff who don’t leave anything to chance. That helps because it means we always know what we need to do.”

Argentina’s captain is now the joint-top scorer at the tournament with five goals as he looks to win the World Cup for the first time in his glittering career at the age of 35.

His goal that opened the scoring against Croatia was his 11th World Cup goal, allowing him to equal the Argentine record held by Gabriel Batistuta.

“I am really enjoying myself. Luckily I feel good and strong going into every game,” he said.

“In the last game we were taken to extra time and today we were tired but we seem to find strength where we have none.”

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