Monday, December 19, 2022

World Cup News: Aston Villa Goalie Martinez and GOAT Messi Deliver Argentina World Cup Trophy

Argentina’s clash with France for the World Cup title came down to penalty kicks and Aston Villa’s Emiliano Martinez again displayed his proclivity for the unique art form. The goalkeeper seems entirely comfortable in the spotlight while those facing him face both pressure and the intimidation and distraction tactics of the Aston Villa man. The 6’4” Martinez, the hero in an earlier penalty kick shootout with the Netherlands in the quarterfinals, came up big again on Sunday. Tied at three goals apiece after extra time, Argentina scored on all four of its penalty kicks while France failed on two of its kicks against Martinez to give La Albiceleste the victory.

After Kylian Mbappe converted France’s first attempt in penalties, Martinez  was successful in saving the second attempt by Kinglsey Coman. A save wasn’t necessary on France’s third attempt. Some theatrics perhaps were. Before the kick of 22-year-old Aurelien Tchouameni, Martinez threw the ball far from the spot, forcing the youngster to disrupt his routine and chase after the ball himself. Unnerved, Tchouameni pulled his shot wide for a second France miss. Argentina’s Gonzalo Montiel then buried the fourth successful kick for Argentina to claim the country’s third World Cup and deny France a second consecutive World Cup title.

The penalty kick drama concluded a sensational back and forth clash featuring top performances from two renowned superstars. Lionel Messi, capturing his first World Cup, and Kylian Mbappe, denied his second, both delivered performances for the ages. Messi opened scoring with a penalty kick and triggered the buildup to Argentina’s second goal and a 2-0 halftime lead. France would not score until the 80th minute when Mbappe converted a penalty following a clumsy foul committed by former Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi. The France comeback continued as Mbappe delivered the tying goal just one minute later with a powerful strike in open play which would see regulation time end at two goals apiece. The momentum would then shift again as Messi responded in extra time with his second goal of the match to seemingly put Argentina on the cusp of victory. A called handball in the box on Argentina right back Montiel, however, delayed the celebration as Mbappe buried the penalty for his third goal of the game and again knotted the match. Montiel was almost denied his later chance for shootout redemption but for a stunning save by Argentina’s Martinez in the final minute of stoppage time.

Martinez would rightfully be awarded the Golden Glove for his tournament performance. Mbappe’s hat trick in the final secured the Golden Boot trophy by one goal over Messi. It will be Argentina’s Number 10, however, who will be most remembered as the headliner in a tournament where he secured the one major team trophy previously missing from his resume on a day where he established World Cup records for appearances and minutes played. The 35-year-old Messi received the Golden Ball award as the tournament’s best player after a match which was probably his farewell to World Cup competition.

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