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 Julian Alvarez 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.
Inter Milan forward Joaquin 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.
Earlier, 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.
Saudi Arabia’s French coach Herve Renard also made numerous second-half changes. His team has a tough task in Group C against Argentina, Mexico and Poland.
Croatia is in Group F along with Belgium, Canada and Morocco.
Germany was playing in Oman later, while Poland faced Chile for its last World Cup warmup. Mexico and Sweden were to play in Gerona, Italy after that.
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