Argentina’s first match back on home soil as World Cup winners was an emotional affair with Lionel Messi and his team-mates clearly touched by the remarkable reception they were given
Lionel Messi struggled to hold back the tears as he and his Argentina team-mates received an incredible homecoming following their World Cup triumph.
Messi and co. played on home turf for the first time since lifting the trophy on Thursday (March 23), hosting Panama in a friendly. There were special scenes before the match as the 83,000-strong crowd gave them a hero’s welcome at the Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires.
A firework display was held while the teams lined up on the pitch, with the home fans chanting loud enough to have raised the roof – if there was one.
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Their serenading left the whole team on the verge of tears. Aston Villa goalkeeper Emi Martinez was visibly emotional and Messi looked particularly choked up.
Once the game got underway, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was once again the star of the show. He twice hit the woodwork with free-kicks.
And it was a case of third time lucky as he netted one in the 89th minute to secure Argentina a 2-0 victory, with young midfielder Thiago Almada also getting on the scoresheet. It was his 99th international goal and the 800th of his career.
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After the match the celebrations continued, with the players joined by their families. Messi’s wife Antonela and their three sons Thiago, Mateo and Ciro were beside him as he lifted the World Cup trophy for a second time.
The whole squad were given their own replica trophies to life in unison with their captain, which resulted in Martinez recreating his infamous Golden Glove pose in Qatar.
As well as doing it with his team-mates, some of the Argentina WAGs also got in on the cheeky action.
Addressing the crowd, Messi said: “I always dreamed of this moment and to celebrate with you. With my country, Argentina.
“I don’t want to forget all the teammates I had before because we also did everything possible to get it. Let’s enjoy the third star.”