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SPORTS | 13-12-2022 20:52

'Still one step to go,' says Scaloni after semi-final win

"I think we deserved to win but maybe not by such a margin," said Argentina's national team coach after 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni admitted it was difficult not to get carried away after his side beat Croatia in Tuesday's World Cup semi-final but called on his side to quickly gather their focus for the final.

Captain Lionel Messi scored a penalty and then set up two goals for Manchester City striker Julián Álvarez as Argentina won 3-0 at Lusail Stadium to advance to Sunday's final against either holders France or Morocco.

"The truth is that the result maybe didn't reflect the game. I think we deserved to win but maybe not by such a margin," said Scaloni, whose side took the lead from a penalty awarded just after the half-hour mark for a foul on Alvarez.

Scaloni said he expected his side to find the going tough against a Croatian midfield inspired by Luka Modrić.

"They controlled possession at first, but we knew that could happen because they have three top-class midfielders who have been playing together for years and know each other very well. We understood that was how the game would go, but the game opened up with the penalty."

Argentina's players celebrated wildly with their fans who made up the majority of the crowd in Doha and Scaloni added: "We celebrated because it is exciting to be in the final, but there is still one step to go. This is something to enjoy but it's over now, so we need to move on to the next one."

The 44-year-old Scaloni is now hoping to win the World Cup just 18 months after leading Argentina to victory in the Copa América in Brazil.

It will be the Albiceleste's sixth World Cup final but the former defender rejected comparisons with illustrious coaches of the past, including Cesar Luis Menotti, Carlos Bilardo and Alejandro Sabella, who led them to the 2014 final.

"I can't compare myself with other coaches," he said. "It fills me with pride to get to the final and represent the national team. But I can't put myself on the same level as them. I just feel privileged to be in the final."

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