AP PHOTOS: Favorite photos from AP staff at the World Cup

Dec 23, 2022, 10:56 AM | Updated: Dec 24, 2022, 5:44 am
FILE - Brazil's Neymar takes the ball past Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic on his way to sco...

FILE - Brazil's Neymar takes the ball past Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic on his way to scoring his side's first goal during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Croatia and Brazil, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

(AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

              FILE - Brazil's Neymar takes the ball past Croatia's goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic on his way to scoring his side's first goal during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Croatia and Brazil, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)
            
              FILE - Saudi Arabia's Salem Al-Dawsari celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan, File)
            
              FILE - Croatia's Luka Modric fights for the ball with Canada's Kamal Miller during the World Cup group F soccer match between Croatia and Canada, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)
            
              FILE - Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his side's opening goal during the World Cup group H soccer match between Portugal and Uruguay, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi, File)
            
              FILE - People play cricket in the streets in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. As dawn broke Friday as Qatar hosts the World Cup, the laborers who built this energy-rich country's stadiums, roads and rail filled empty stretches of asphalt and sandlots to play cricket. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr, File)
            
              FILE - Brazil's Neymar reacts at the end of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Croatia and Brazil, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic, File)
            
              FILE - France's Olivier Giroud goes for an overhead kick during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between France and Poland, at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)
            
              FILE - Argentina's Lionel Messi escapes with the ball during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Argentina and Australia at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)
            
              FILE - Japan's Kaoru Mitoma passes the ball to teammate Ao Tanaka who score the second goal against Spain during a World Cup group E soccer match at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
            
              FILE - Tourists ride camels near Sealine Beach in Mesaieed, Qatar, during the World Cup soccer tournament, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
            
              FILE - Japan's Kaoru Mitoma appears to have the ball over the line before crossing it for a goal during the World Cup group E soccer match between Japan and Spain, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)
            
              FILE - Argentina's Angel Di Maria celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, File)
            
              FILE - German's team covers their mouth during the team photo prior to the World Cup group E soccer match between Germany and Japan, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, File)
            
              FILE - A soccer fan supporting England waits for the start of the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between England and Senegal, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)
            
              FILE - Argentina players celebrate at the end of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)
            
              FILE - France's Adrien Rabiot , top, and France's Olivier Giroud celebrate after England's Harry Kane missed a penalty kick during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between England and France, at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
            
              FILE - Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts after teammate Pepe missed a chance to score during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Morocco and Portugal, at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)
            
              Argentine soccer fans gather at the Obelisk landmark illuminated with an image of soccer star Lionel Messi, during a rally in support of the national soccer team, a day ahead of the World Cup final against France, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022.  (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
            
              FILE - France's Kylian Mbappe sits on the bench at the end of the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec.18, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)
            
              FILE - France's Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between France and Poland, at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)
            
              FILE - Poland's Bartosz Bereszynski, left, and Mexico's Hirving Lozano battle for the ball during the World Cup group C soccer match between Mexico and Poland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo, File)
            
              FILE - Argentina's Lionel Messi gestures at the end of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)
            
              FILE - Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates with Argentina's goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez at the end of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina, at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Argentina defeated the Netherlands 4-3 in a penalty shootout after the match ended tied 2-2.(AP Photo/Jorge Saenz, File)
            
              FILE - South Korea's Son Heung-min reacts after sustaining an injury during the World Cup group H soccer match between Uruguay and South Korea, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan , Qatar, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)
            
              FILE - Denzel Dumfries of the Netherlands celebrates scoring his side's 3rd goal during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the Netherlands and the United States, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)
            
              FILE - Argentina's Lionel Messi greets cheering fans after his team's 3-0 win in the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Argentina and Croatia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)
            
              FILE - Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates with the trophy in front of fans after winning the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Dec. 18, 2022. A World Cup that ended with Lionel Messi finally holding the golden trophy in his hands produced some unforgettable images from the staff of Associated Press photographers at the tournament in Qatar. Through the 64 games over nearly a month of soccer, the AP deployed dozens of photographers to the eight stadiums in and around Doha.(AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — A World Cup that ended with Lionel Messi finally holding the golden trophy in his hands produced some unforgettable images from the staff of Associated Press photographers at the tournament in Qatar.

Through the 64 games over nearly a month of soccer, the AP deployed dozens of photographers to the eight stadiums in and around Doha.

It ended at Lusail Stadium with Argentina beating France in a penalty shootout for the title, and a photo of Messi hoisted above the crowd with the World Cup trophy in his hand.

It was one of a group of photos chosen by staff members as their favorite of the tournament.

There were other memorable moments, and other star players. Like Cristiano Ronaldo, who may have played his last World Cup match with Portugal at the age of 37. Like Neymar, who overcame an ankle injury to return to the field but ultimately lost in the quarterfinals with Brazil. Like Luka Modric, who made it back to the semifinals with Croatia a year after reaching the final. And like Kylian Mbappe, who became only the second player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final despite France’s loss to Argentina.

The tournament in Qatar has been criticized for years because of the country’s human rights record and it started with more controversy when FIFA threatened to penalize players who wanted to wear an unofficial captain’s armband to promote inclusion.

Four-time champion Germany was one of those teams, and the players decided to take a team picture before their opening match with each holding his hand over his mouth to show they were being silenced.

There were pictures off the field as well, like of the fans who make the World Cup so special. And even a cricket photo with migrant workers playing their favorite game on a rocky lot in the city with skyscrapers all around them.

In the end, though, it was all about Messi and that World Cup trophy in his grateful hands.

___

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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AP PHOTOS: Favorite photos from AP staff at the World Cup