Messi scores as Argentina routs UAE 5-0 in World Cup warmup

Nov 15, 2022, 7:38 PM | Updated: Nov 16, 2022, 1:44 pm
Argentina's Lionel Messi, left, and Khalifa Alhammadi of the United Arab Emirates fight for the bal...

Argentina's Lionel Messi, left, and Khalifa Alhammadi of the United Arab Emirates fight for the ball during a friendly soccer match between Argentina and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

(AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

              Argentina's Lionel Messi, left, and Khalifa Alhammadi of the United Arab Emirates fight for the ball during a friendly soccer match between Argentina and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
            
              Argentina's Lionel Messi warms up before a friendly soccer match between Argentina and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
            
              Argentina's Lionel Messi waves before a friendly soccer match between Argentina and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
            
              Argentina's Lionel Messi sgives a thumb up before a friendly match between Argentina and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              Argentina's Lionel Messi scores during a friendly match between Argentina and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
            
              Argentina's Lionel Messi in action to score during a friendly soccer match between Argentina and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
            
              Argentina's Lionel Messi scores during a friendly soccer match between Argentina and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
            
              Argentina's Lionel Messi scores during a friendly soccer match between Argentina and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
            
              Argentina's Julian Alvarez and Lionel Messi celebrate after he scored during a friendly soccer match between Argentina and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
            
              Argentina's Lionel Messi, left, and Khalifa Alhammadi of the United Arab Emirates fight for the ball during a friendly soccer match between Argentina and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Lionel Messi played the entire game in Argentina’s final World Cup warmup and scored in a 5-0 rout of the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday as the pre-tournament favorites stretched their unbeaten run to 36 games.

Messi scored his team’s fourth goal right before the break, having also set up Julián Álvarez to open the scoring in the 17th minute. Angel di Maria scored twice in between.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni made four changes at halftime but opted against resting his star player, leaving Messi on for the full 90 minutes.

Messi has now scored 10 goals in his last five appearances for Argentina and took his overall tally to 91 goals.

Inter Milan forward Joaquín Correa scored the visitors’ fifth goal on the hour mark.

Argentina starts its World Cup tournament against Saudi Arabia on Nov. 22. It also faces Mexico and Poland in Group C.

“We’re confident,” midfielder Rodrigo De Paul said. “But for many it will their first World Cup so the first game will be very important.”

FÜLLKRUG RESCUES GERMANY

Niclas Füllkrug scored on his Germany debut as the four-time World Cup champion earned a 1-0 win over Oman in Muscat.

It was far from a convincing performance from Germany, which looked susceptible in defense and prone to mistakes.

But Füllkrug’s introduction for the second half brought a new dimension to an attack that had failed to spark in the first half.

Youssoufa Moukoko struck the post on his Germany debut right before the break, which as close as the visitors got in the first half.

The 17-year-old Moukoko was Germany’s youngest debutant since Uwe Seeler, who was younger by 16 days in 1954.

Moukoko then made way at the break for Füllkrug. The 29-year-old forward almost scored early in the second half only to be denied by a good save from the impressive Ibrahim Al-Mukhaini.

Germany remained vulnerable at the back but Oman substitute Muhsen Al-Ghassani somehow missed with the goal at his mercy in the 72nd.

The hosts were to rue the miss when Kai Havertz set up Füllkrug to score what proved the winner in the 80th.

Germany faces Japan, Spain and Costa Rice in Group E.

LEWANDOWSKI LEFT OUT

Robert Lewandowski watched from the bench as Poland edged Chile 1-0 in a bruising encounter thanks to a late goal from Krzysztof Piatek in Warsaw.

Lewandowski didn’t play but will likely start Poland’s tournament-opening game against Mexico on Nov. 22.

Mexico lost its final warmup game 2-1 to Sweden in Girona, Spain.

CROATIA BEATS SAUDI ARABIA

Andrej Kramaric’s late goal was enough for Croatia to beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 in Riyadh.

Croatia star Luka Modric played only the last 25 minutes, enough to set up Kramaric for the winner in the 82nd. Kramaric still had to elude five Saudi defenders before scoring his 20th international goal inside the far post.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic began with an unfamiliar lineup and gradually brought on his established players. Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic, Hoffenheim forward Kramaric, Tottenham midfielder Ivan Perisic and Real Madrid’s Modric all came on in the second half.

Croatia is in Group F along with Belgium, Canada and Morocco.

___

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Messi scores as Argentina routs UAE 5-0 in World Cup warmup