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Lionel Messi: Losing 1st game helped Argentina reach World Cup final

LUSAIL, Qatar -- Lionel Messi has praised Argentina for passing an "acid test" in bouncing back from losing against Saudi Arabia in their opening match to reach the World Cup final.

Sunday's showpiece will see Argentina face either France or Morocco after Messi inspired Lionel Scaloni's side to a 3-0 win over Croatia at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

The 35-year-old opened the scoring through a 34th-minute penalty before Julian Alvarez's brace either side of half-time -- including a superb solo run for his first goal -- settled the contest against a jaded Croatia side with midfielder Luka Modric almost certainly playing in his final World Cup match.