In a tense and roller-coaster match at the Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Lionel Messi led Argentina to their third World Cup title after beating previous champions France 4-2 on penalties after drawing 3-3 after extra time.
“I can’t believe it! It was difficult, but we did it, thanks to Messi,” Santiago, 13, said as he celebrated the victory with his family in front of the Buenos Aires house that had belonged to late football icon Diego Maradona, who led the team in 1986.
Bearing flags, hats and the country’s iconic blue-and-white jerseys, Argentines took over Buenos Aires’ downtown and other iconic spots within minutes after the win. Across the country, other celebrations broke out.
“It was an incredible game, at times anguishing,” said 46-year-old Diego Aburgeily, who cheered on the national side from the suburbs of Buenos Aires. “This team made people fall in love with them for the first time in decades.”
The South American team, which lost the final of the tournament against Germany in 2014, had not won a World Cup since 1986. But the rise of the team has spurred avid support in Argentina.
“It is an immense joy after so much tension,” Nicolas Piry, a 46-year-old lawyer, told Reuters.
“The harmony between the team, headed by a leader who plays at a level making him the best in the world, and the players’ condition in general led us to this well-deserved success. Let’s go Argentina!” he added.
The final win cements Messi’s status as a legend among Argentines, with the match Sunday expected to be his last appearance in a World Cup for Argentina.
Argentina fans flood streets after thrilling World Cup final win