The Norman Transcript

National Sports

July 14, 2014

Messi’s Cup runneth over

RIO DE JANEIRO — Lionel Messi’s final act in the 2014 World Cup was lifting a free kick high over the bar, wasting Argentina’s last chance to equalize in the final against Germany.

It was far from a fitting finish for the four-time world player of the year.

This was supposed to be Messi’s World Cup, just like the 1986 tournament belonged to another Argentine great, Diego Maradona.

But after carrying his team through the group stage in Brazil with four goals, Messi seemed to run out of steam.

In the final Sunday, he created chances but, like the rest of the team, lacked the finishing touch to turn the game for Argentina.

He was a picture of disappointment after the 1-0 loss as he collected the trophy for the tournament’s best player.

“I think he deserves it because he played an extraordinary role. He was the fundamental factor in the team,” Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said.

Messi has won everything there is to win with club team Barcelona, but many critics say he needs a World Cup title to be considered among football’s all-time greats.

“He’s been there for quite a while already, in the pantheon of the greats,” Sabella said, when asked to compare Messi with players like Maradona and Brazilian legend Pele.

Messi stood out in an otherwise mediocre Argentine team in the group stage, scoring against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran and twice against Nigeria.

The free kick he curled inside Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama’s left post was a masterpiece. Then, game by game, Messi’s influence started waning.

Against Switzerland he had little impact until extra time, when he drilled a hole in the Swiss defense and set up Angel Di Maria’s winning goal. In the next game, against Belgium, he started the movement that resulted in Gonzalo Higuain’s first-half winner and helped Argentina keep possession as the Belgians tried to level the score.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • NASCAR Brickyard 400 Auto Racing Jeff Gordon wins at Indianapolis for record fifth time

    INDIANAPOLIS — With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again. Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight ...

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to Tour victory

    PARIS — Vincenzo Nibali put his lungs and legs to work one last time, marching up to the winner’s podium of the Tour de France and sighing deeply before the Italian anthem echoed over the Champs-Elysees....

    July 28, 2014

  • Scott says he will coach Lakers

    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers have waited nearly three months to hire a new coach, and they’re apparently making Byron Scott wait a few more days....

    July 28, 2014

  • BoSox snap Rays’ streak

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — David Ortiz hit a three-run homer, and the Boston Red Sox beat Tampa Bay 3-2 Sunday to end a five-game losing streak and stop the Rays’ longest winning streak in 10 years at nine games....

    July 28, 2014

  • The Big Hurt and Joe Torre headline Hall of Fame class

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy. Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats....

    July 28, 2014

  • Telling The Boss, sorry

    COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Before he answered a question at the press conference following the Baseball Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony on Sunday, Joe Torre wanted to address someone he regrettably omitted from his speech....

    July 28, 2014

  • Wainwright bounces back to beat Cubs

    CHICAGO — When St. Louis Cardinals Mike Matheny visited the mound with two out and two on in the seventh inning on Sunday, he had no idea whether he was going to replace starter Adam Wainwright....

    July 28, 2014

  • A’s rout Rangers

    ARLINGTON, Texas — John Jaso drove in three runs, helping Scott Kazmir and the Oakland Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 9-3 Sunday night....

    July 28, 2014

  • Clark rallies in Montreal

    MONTREAL — Tim Clark rallied to win the Canadian Open on Sunday, birdieing five of the last eight holes for a one-stroke victory over Jim Furyk....

    July 28, 2014

  • Isner wins another Atlanta final

    ATLANTA — Top-seeded John Isner overpowered Dudi Sela on Sunday to successfully defend his Atlanta Open title, blowing serve after serve past the 5-foot-9 Israeli player in a 6-3, 6-4 victory....

    July 28, 2014