Mark Bosnich called out on air as 'shameful' drama divides World Cup fans

Pictured left is former Socceroos Mark Bosnich and Argentina's crucial semi-final penalty incident on the right.
Mark Bosnich was adamant Argentina should not have been awarded a penalty for Lionel Messi's first goal. Pic: SBS/Getty

Former Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Bosnich has been called out on-air after insisting that Lionel Messi's first goal in the semi-final defeat of Croatia should never have been a penalty. Messi scored from the spot and provided another exquisite assist for two-goal hero Julian Alvarez as the Argentine's won 3-0 to become the first team into Monday morning's (AEDT) World Cup final - where they will face the winner of the second semi-final between France and Morocco.

Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot after a sweetly struck effort into the top corner after Alvarez was taken out by Dominik Livakovic, having just got a touch to the ball before Croatia's goalkeeper before the pair clattered together.

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Alvarez doubled his side's lead moments later after poking home his first goal at the end of a surging run from halfway, which started from a crucial with Messi touch just inside Croatia's half. The Manchester City striker rode his luck after benefiting from a number of fortuitous rebounds off the hapless Croatian defenders, before volleying past Livakovic.

With Argentina 2-0 up at half-time, Bosnich was discussing the first half action as part of SBS' coverage, when he clashed with fellow Socceroos great Craig Foster about the awarding of the penalty that led to Messi's opening goal. Bosnich argued that Livakovic had every right to come out to try and claim the ball ahead of Alvarez and the collision between the pair did not constitute a foul.

Seen here, Argentina's Julian Alvarez just gets a touch on the ball before colliding with Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic.
Argentina's Julian Alvarez just got a touch on the ball before colliding with Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic. Pic: Getty (Lionel Hahn via Getty Images)

“What is Livakovic supposed to do? He is standing there and Alvarez pokes it past him and he is allowed to stand there. That was a very harsh penalty," Bosnich said. Foster countered that claim by insisting that Alvarez's touch past the keeper meant any subsequent contact on the striker should be deemed a foul.

“I really don’t think that was a penalty. I don’t know what you expect Livakovic to do... if he stops, you can’t just jump out of the way because somebody is running into you.” Bosnich added.

Foster responded: “But you don’t have to be there, that is the thing. It is a foul on the player. The ball has gone over, he (Alvarez) can collect it on the other side. So he has to give a foul. The keeper could stay on his right.”

It wasn't just the Aussie experts who had differing views of the penalty decision, with the panel analysing the game for Britain's ITV also butting heads over the crucial call. Football icons Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Ian Wright all agreed with Bosnich that it shouldn't have been a penalty.

“This is not a penalty,” Neville said. “What else can he do? He has to make that motion to try and save the ball, he plants his feet. If he’d carried on running out and taken out Alvarez then fair enough, but he stops before it and I don’t know if that’s a penalty.”

Wright added: “When you look at it, the centre forward, he’s actually mis-kicked it to be honest. If he hits it and it goes into the goal, the goalkeeper can’t do anything like you say, he’s stopped.”

Keane weighed in: “Poor defending overall to let him get a run in on goal, but I agree with the lads, I don’t think it’s a penalty, where else are you supposed to go?”

The incident proved particularly divisive across the football world, with many other viewers agreeing with Foster that it was a clear-cut penalty. Not surprisingly, fans lit up social media to debate the biggest talking point from the first half.

Lionel Messi masterclass guides Argentina into World Cup final

Messi's first half goal saw him become Argentina's highest-ever World Cup goalscorer, with his 11th in national colours seeing the 35-year-old overtake Gabriel Batistuta's haul. His fifth goal of the campaign saw him draw level with France's Kylian Mbappe - who could add to his tally in the semi-final against Morocco - in the Golden Boot race.

While there may have been some conjecture about Argentina's first goal, the same couldn't be said about the third as Messi sent social media into meltdown with a run and assist described as "insane" and "ridiculous" from viewers. The 35-year-old weaved his way past Croatian defender Joško Gvardiol with an incredible piece of trickery, before cutting the ball back from the byline for Alvarez to sweep home.

That strike ended the contest. Ivan Perisic saw a driven free-kick saved and Modric was applauded by both sets of fans as he was withdrawn. Alexis Mac Allister volleyed wide and substitute Lovro Majer tried his luck as the match wound down, with Argentina’s bench jumping in unison with their fans’ chants before the final whistle sparked wild celebrations.

"A lot is going through my head - it's very emotional seeing all of this," Messi said in a post-match interview on the field as he looked up at Argentina's celebrating, scarf-waving supporters. "To see the fans - 'the family' - during the whole tournament was so incredible. We're going to the final, which is what we wanted."

It was one game too far for Croatia, who had beaten Japan and Brazil on penalties in the knockout stage, and star midfielder Luka Modric, who - at 37 - has likely played his final World Cup match. Summing up a frustrating game for the little midfield magician, he was substituted in the 81st minute.

Argentina maintained their record of never having lost in the World Cup semi-finals and have reached the final for the sixth time. The dark days after losing to Saudi Arabia in their opening group match seem long ago now for Argentina.

"Even though we lost our first match, we were confident that this group was going to push forward," Messi said. "We know what we are, and we called on the fans to believe in us."

with agencies

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