World Cup 2022: Lionel Messi leads Argentina to the final

Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Gus M. Bilirakis (FL-12), Jackie Speier (CA-14), David G. Valadao (CA-21), and Adam B. Schiff (CA-28) issued the following statement after troubling reports of Azerbaijanis blocking the sole road connecting the people of Artsakh to Armenia and posing huge risks to vulnerable populations:

“We condemn the aggressive actions taken by Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh. It is disturbing that the only time the people of Azerbaijan are allowed to freely protest is when it threatens the lives of Armenians. Their blockade of the Lachin Corridor appears coordinated and intended to shut off the only remaining supply route for much of Artsakh’s food, medical supplies and transport, and other essential goods, not to mention further restrict the people of Artsakh’s freedom of movement. Additional reports allege that Azerbaijan has also shut off one of the major sources of natural gas for civilians in the territory, potentially leaving tens of thousands without heating as temperatures plummet, much like it did earlier this year in March.

“The shutting down, or even the threat of shutting down, of these vital lifelines by Azerbaijan is once again weaponizing critical infrastructure and manufacturing a humanitarian crisis for Armenians living in Nagorno Karabakh. This follows a well-documented pattern of abuses against the Armenian people that is motivated by the bombastic rhetoric of the Aliyev regime to dehumanize them. We urge the United States and our European partners to use every diplomatic tool at their disposal to halt this clearly fabricated crisis created by Azerbaijan, bring Aliyev back to the negotiating table through the OSCE Minsk Group and other multilateral peace processes, and ensure that the people of Artsakh are included in these discussions.”

Argentina reached the World Cup final for the first time since 2014 with a 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia as a masterful Lionel Messi scored a penalty and Julian Alvarez struck a sensational brace.

Messi, looking to win the World Cup for the first time in his fifth and likely final appearance at the tournament, fired home a first-half penalty to become Argentina’s all-time top scorer in the competition with 11 goals.

Alvarez ran half the length of the pitch to double the Albiceleste’s lead, before Messi went on a dazzling dribble after the break to set up Alvarez for a tap-in.

Messi equalled Diego Maradona’s record of eight World Cup assists for Argentina, while this was his 25th World Cup appearance – matching the record of Germany legend Lothar Matthaus.

The 35-year-old will now captain his country against France or Morocco in Sunday’s final as Argentina look to become world champions for the first time since the Maradona-inspired campaign of 1986, and the third time overall.

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