2022 World Cup stats: Messi's record-breaking night, Alvarez emulates Pele

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup semifinal stage kicked off with a bang, as Argentina beat Croatia 3-0, with Julian Alvarez grabbing a brace after Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

By The Numbers has the best stats from the sole World Cup match played on Tuesday:

Argentina 3-0 Croatia


Messi is now the top-scorer (male) for Argentina in World Cups, moving past Gabriel Batistuta's record of 10 goals, after notching his 11th career World Cup goal against Croatia. He's now joint-sixth in the all time scoring charts in World Cup History: Miroslav Klose (16), Ronaldo Nazario (15), Gerd Müller (14), Just Fontaine (13), Pelé (12) have more, while Messi ties Jürgen Klinsmann and Sandor Kocsis (11).


35-year-old Lionel Messi is the oldest man to score five goals in a single FIFA World Cup campaign.


Lionel Messi made his 25th World Cup appearance against Croatia, tying German legend Lothar Matthäus for the most World Cup appearances by a male player. He will surpass him if he features in the final on Sunday.


Messi scored his sixteenth goal for Argentina in 2022, the most he's achieved in any calendar year for his nation. His next-best years came in 2012 (12) and 2021 (9). With six assists so far, his 22 goal contributions for Argentina this year are 8 more than in any other calendar year for Argentina


Messi is the first male player ever to score and assist in three different games of a single World Cup edition since 1966. He is also the first player with a goal and an assist in consecutive knockout stage matches since 1966 (West Germany's Helmut Haller in QF & SF).


Messi leads the way in multiple categories in this World Cup: Goals (5), Assists (3), Shots (27), Shots on target (14), Expected goals (4.75), Chances created (18), Fouls drawn (20), Open-play chances created (14), Take-ons (36). He also has the most Man-of-the-Match awards (4).


Messi has scored in all three of Argentina's knockout games in Qatar. He had never scored a knockout-round goal in any of his four previous World Cups.


Messi (11 goals, 8 assists) has the most goal involvements in a World Cup (since 1966), joining Miroslav Klose (16 goals, 3 assists), Ronaldo Nazario (15 goals, 4 assists) and Gerd Müller (14 goals, 5 assists).


Since the 1966 edition, no player has scored or assisted in more different World Cup matches than Lionel Messi (13 - level with Ronaldo)


Julian Alvarez scored his fourth goal in this World Cup, tied with Gonzalo Higuain (in the 2010 edition) for the most for any Argentina men's player in a single World Cup aged 22 or younger.


Argentina are the fifth team to reach a World Cup final after losing their first game (1-2 vs Saudi Arabia). Only one of those teams went on to win the World Cup - Spain in 2010.


Argentina have never lost a World Cup semifinal in any of their five attempts.

(Stats courtesy: ESPN Stats and Information Group)