Argentina rode on a Lionel Messi’s masterclass to thrash European champions Italy by 3-0 in Finalissima at Wembley Stadium, on Wednesday. Apart from bagging two assists, Messi lit up the stadium with his trademark dribbles and sleek passes, and was hoisted into the air after the final whistle. 

A well-struck cross from Messi was met by Lautaro Martinez’s clinical finish in the 28th minute of the game, and a few moments later, Angel Di Maria doubled the lead to ensure a win for his team. Paulo Dybala, coming off the bench, added a personal note to the result by making it 3-0 in the injury time.

Earlier this year, Messi won his first major title with Argentina as they defeated their arch-rival Brazil in the Copa America final. With the FIFA World Cup set to be held later this year, Argentina has sent an emphatic statement to the rest of the world by winning their second international title in less than a year. La Albiceleste has extended its unbeaten streak to 32 games. 

“It was a beautiful final, full of Argentinians. What we’ve experienced here was beautiful,” said Messi in the post-match interview. “We knew it was going to be an attractive game and a nice setting to be champion. We can compete against anyone. Today it was a good test because Italy is a great team.”

Finalissima is a prestigious friendly rendition of the Cup Of Champions, where the winner of Copa America clashes with European champions. Before Wednesday, this intercontinental match has been held only twice. In 1993, Diego Maradona-led Argentina defeated Denmark in a penalty shootout to win this trophy. 

Messi also talked about his iconic tribute to Diego Maradona last year, when he celebrated his goal for Barcelona by showing his Newell’s Old Boys jersey. 

“I have to do something for Diego, I have to,” said Messi. I have the part from the [personal collection], with the trophies, t-shirts, and I’m going to see what’s there. I went to look for a national team t-shirt or something.”

“I went up and there is a little door that is always closed, where we put things. It was just open. There was a chair and on top was the 10 of that Newell’s t-shirt. I went in and saw it.”

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