Angel di Maria: Argentina's man for the big ocassions

The 34-year-old had a stunning game as he won the penalty and finished off a sublime team move to help La Albiceleste beat France and lift their third World Cup title.

File photo of Argentina winger Angel di Maria; Credit: Twitter/ @Argentina
By Sreejith C R | Dec 19, 2022 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Angel di Maria once again turned up on the big occasion for Argentina as he scored the second goal for his team in the Qatar World Cup final against France at Lusail stadium on Sunday. The 34-year-old had a stunning game as he won the penalty, which Lionel Messi converted inside the opening 23 minutes, before finishing off a sublime team move to double the lead, thirteen minutes later. Di Maria, who didn’t start any of the knockout matches, was included in the starting lineup for the title-decider and the Juventus-man was by far the best player for Argentina in the first 60 minutes, before he was substituted with Marcus Acuna. Although Kylian Mbappe netted a late double to take the game to extra time, before he once again canceled out Messi’s second of the night to force the match to penalties, Emiliano Martinez’ heroics in goal helped Argentina prevail 4-2 in the shootout.

Read more: Lionel Scaloni: Mastermind behind Argentina’s World Cup triumph

Di Maria scored the winner in the 2020 Copa America final

This is not the first time that the winger has scored in the final of a major tournament. Last year, in July, when La Albiceleste defeated Brazil 1-0 to lift the Copa America title, it was Di Maria’s first-half strike that separated the two sides at the Maracana and ended La Albiceleste’s 28-year title-drought. Meanwhile, Di Maria was also the man-of-the match for Real Madrid in the final of the 2015 Champions League when Los Blancos defeated Atletico Madrid 4-1 to lift the title. He also scored the lone for Argentina in the final of the 2008 Olympics against Nigeria. Head coach Lionel Scaloni’s decision to start Di Maria on the left flank in a 4-3-3 formation proved to be a masterstroke in the title-decider as the veteran ran riot at the French defence. The 34-year-old normally plays on the right flank and to deploy him on the left wing took Les Bleus by surprise. French right-back Jules Kounde and winger Ousmane Dembele were taken to the cleaners. 

Di Maria finished off a sublime team move

After 20 minutes Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez played  a nice little one-two on the edge of the box, before the latter switched the ball to Di Maria on the left flank. The former PSG-man cut inside and got past Dembele with ease before being brought down inside the box by the 25-year-old and the Polish referee Szymon Marciniak pointed to the spot. Captain Messi stepped up, kept his composure and slotted home past the French goalkeeper  Hugo Lloris to put Argentina 1-0 up. And then, 13 minutes later, Argentina produced one of the best team goals of the World Cup to double the lead. Mac Allister played a first time pass to Messi on the half-way line, who flicked the ball to Alvarez and the Manchester City player released Mac Allister down the centre, and the 23-year-old ran away with the ball before passing it to Di Maria in front of goal to slot home as France were caught up with Kounde and Aurelien Tchouameni trying hard to tackle back. 

It was the veteran’s first goal of the Qatar World Cup, taking his tally to 28 international goals in 128 appearances for the national side. It was a fairytale ending for Di Maria who had earlier announced that this would be his final World Cup. He along with Messi and Nicolas Otamendi were the only survivors from the 2014 team that lost the final to Germany in Brazil. This was Di Maria’s fourth World Cup finals. He has played in 18 World Cup games, scoring three times and recording two assists.

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