Arengina returns to the hero's welcome. Led by Messi, the team travels to the iconic Obelisk monument for a tour of Buenos Aires city.

Buenos Aires : Argentina won the final in Qatar 4-2 on penalties after a rollercoaster 3-3 draw over 120 minutes of unparalleled drama for their first world cup title in 36 years.

Messi, who scored twice in the final, was the player to emerge from the plane, holding the World Cup aloft, with coach Lionel Scaloni right behind him.

Forward Julian Alvarez, a revelation in Qatar with his four goals, was one of the next players out of the Aerolinas Argentinas Airbus A330.

A picture of Messi was emblazoned on the plane's tail with the words : ''one team, one country, one dream'' on its side.

The players made their way from the plane along a red carpet straight to a white open-top bus with the words ''world champions'' and three stars on its side as their World Cup theme song ''Muchachos'' by ska band La Mosca blared out.

Excitement has been brewing since the party that began after Sunday's final ahead of the player's arrival.

A private reception at a VIP suite at the airport had been arranged to greet the returning players.

''I came because of my passion for Argentina. I love Messi, I love the entire team,'' Alejandra Diaz, 55, a kindergarten teacher told AFP outside the airport.

Welder Javier Merina, 41, a Messi ''fanatic'' said he had come to the airport to try to get the star to sign a picture.

''If he doesn't I will go to Rosario, to Funes [Messi's home town] to see if I can get Messi's autograph,'' said Merina.

Messi, 35, finally crowned his record-breaking career with football's biggest prize as he produced one of the greatest World Cup final performances, scoring a first-half penalty and netting again in extra time.

In doing so he emulated his predecessor as Argentina's idol, Diego Maradona who inspired the country to their second world title with a series of match-winning displays at Mexico 1986.

''I remember '86 but this victory yesterday was much more emotional and much more stressful,'' architect Ricardo Grunfeld, 65, told AFP.

''I don't know if there's any difference with '86 but this comes at a good time,'' added Zulema Guereri, 80.

Argentina had led 2-0 with 10 minutes of normal time left and 3-2 with only two minutes of extra-time to go but Kylian Mbappe completed only the second World Cup final hat-trick in history to take the gripping final to penalties, before Gonzalo Montiel swept home the decisive spot kick.

Football's world-governing body FIFA said the cumulative stadium attendance was 3.4 million spectators and that more than one million visitors travelled to Qatar to watch the matches. [AFP]


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