LUSAIL, December 18
The World Cup final turned from a one-sided affair into a nerve-racking vintage showdown and it was somehow fitting that footballing diva Argentina prevailed over France amid the drama.
Tears flowed at Lusail stadium when Gonzalo Montiel buried the winning penalty for a 4-2 shootout victory after Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick had dragged France back into the contest twice following Angel Di Maria’s opener and Lionel Messi’s double.
Messi’s maiden cup
- Lionel Messi (35) finally won the biggest prize of his life in soccer — FIFA World Cup
- Twice gave Argentina the lead, at 1-0 on a 23rd-minute penalty and 3-2 in the 108th minute
- Becomes the first man in World Cup history to score goals in group stage, Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals & final
- Messi achieved what Maradona did in 1986 and dominated a World Cup for Argentina
Golden boot for Mbappé
- France lost despite Kylian Mbappe (23) scoring the first hat-trick in a final in 56 years
- Joined England’s Geoff Hurst (1966) as the only players with a hat-trick in a WC final
- Scored from the spot in 80th minute, levelled the match 97 seconds later and set up the shootout with his third goal on a penalty in 118th minute
- Secured the Golden Boot by scoring his sixth, seventh and eighth goals of tournament
Argentina, somehow, were ready for an emotional, nail-biting encounter, having already gone through a dress rehearsal in the same stadium against Netherlands in the quarterfinals.
Leading 2-0 after 73 minutes, they were forced into extra time after Wout Weghorst’s late double, but instead of collapsing after the Dutch substitute’s equaliser 11 minutes into stoppage time, they rallied back to win the shootout.
They did just that again today, playing like only Argentina can, with a mix of aggression bordering on gamesmanship, sheer talent, heart and guts. As one of the all-time greatest finals was to be decided by a shootout, Argentina seemed to have the upper hand — France keeper Hugo Lloris is far from being a shootout specialist and Deschamps believes players cannot master the art of taking penalties in training. — Reuters
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