LIONEL MESSI has equalled Cristiano Ronaldo’s two international trophy wins after victory in the Finalissima.
Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to Finalissima success with a 3-0 win over Italy at a sold-out and partisan Wembley Stadium.
Goals by Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria and Paulo Dybala ensured the Copa America champions were able to celebrate more trophy delight after ending their 28-year wait for silverware last summer.
Messi made the opener and on multiple occasions thrilled the 87,112 crowd with flashes of brilliance to show there is plenty of life in the Argentina captain yet despite a difficult season in France.
This was the third edition of the ‘Cup of Champions’ with two previous matches in 1985 and 1993, the latter being won by Argentina to effectively mean they were defending their title after UEFA and CONMEBOL’s recent partnership brought the clash back to life.
Tickets for the Wembley showpiece sold out in April and judging by the noise the majority had gone to South Americans, who produced thunderous roars throughout and especially when their hero was in possession.
It took six minutes for Messi, who struggled in his debut season with Paris St Germain and scored 11 goals for his lowest total in 16 years, to beat an opponent in trademark fashion but the subsequent foul on the seven-time Ballon D’Or winner was only followed by a free-kick into the wall.
It was Italy who should have taken the lead in the 20th minute when Federico Bernardeschi got to the byline and cut back for Andrea Belotti, but Tottenham defender Cristian Romero produced a timely interception.
Giacomo Raspadori had two efforts soon after for the Euro 2020 winners before Giorgio Chiellini, who was playing his last match for Italy, enjoyed a tussle with Messi which ended in the latter winning a foul to huge applause.
The foul seemed to jolt the former Barcelona playmaker into life after he had largely sauntered around the pitch for the opening 25 minutes and the next few minutes were vintage Messi.
A low effort was deflected wide by Leonardo Bonucci following a neat turn before Gianluigi Donnarumma saved from the Argentina captain after he had been the architect of an excellent team move.