Argentina's Lionel Messi and Julián Álvarez were too tough an opposition to the 2018 runners-up Croatia as Argentina breezed through to the Qatar 2002 football World Cup final with a 3-0 victory.
It will be the South Americans' sixth title match after winning in 1978 and 1986 and losing the deciding games in 1930, 1990, and 2014. It will also be Messi's second final, after losing in Rio de Janeiro to Germany. The Rosario-born player arguably lacks a world cup to equal Diego Maradona's accomplishments as Argentina's best player of all times.
Argentina, also known as La Scaloneta after coach Lionel Scaloni, will face Wednesday's winners of the other semifinal featuring reigning champions France against Morocco, the tournament's revelation.
Messi opened the score from the spot after 33 minutes. Croatian keeper Dominik Livakovic, the hero in his team's quarterfinal routing of Brazil on penalties, was cautioned for rough physical action against Álvarez inside the box.
Five minutes later Álvarez finished a superb solo run to give La Scaloneta a 2-0 advantage. And 23 minutes after the interval Messi dribbled past half of the Croatian defense to assist Álvarez to make it 3-0.
Croatia's efforts were useless, as Argentine keeper Dibu Martínez had no trouble controlling the occasional long-distance shot and the numerous crossings. With only five minutes plus stoppage time to go, the Europeans gave up. Croatian Coach Zlatko Dalic pulled 37-year-old star Luka Modric off the pitch and sent on substitute Lovro Majer.
After the final whistle, people all across Argentina took to the streets to celebrate.
The final match will be played Sunday, while Croatia and the loser of Wednesday's clash will face each other for third place Saturday.