After Lionel Messi scored twice in a 3-3 draw that featured a hat trick from Kylian Mbappe as the holders recovered from a 2-0 deficit, Argentina won their third World Cup on penalties, defeating France 4-2.
One of the greatest finals of all time was one of the most extraordinary nights of drama, intense emotion, and shifting fortunes. The tournament’s two star players gave commanding performances on the biggest stage of all.
After Messi scored a penalty and Angel Di Maria scored a brilliant goal in the first half, Argentina appeared to be in complete control. However, Mbappe converted a penalty in the 80th minute and volleyed in an equalizer a minute later to send the game into extra time.
Argentina took the lead once more through Messi, but Mbappe equalized with a second penalty, becoming the second player since England’s Geoff Hurst in 1966 to score a hat trick in the World Cup final.
That sent the match into a penalty kick shootout, where Aurelien Tchouameni shot wide and Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved Kingsley Coman’s attempt. This gave Gonzalo Montiel the chance to win the game, which he gleefully took.
Argentina has now won six of their seven World Cup shootouts, including the quarter-last against the Netherlands seven days prior when they likewise blew a 2-0 lead, while France has lost three of five, yet with two of those losses coming in finals.
It meant that the 35-year-old Messi won the trophy he wanted after his record 26th World Cup match, at the fifth and final time of asking. He was joined by Diego Maradona, the country’s first football god who led them to their emotional second victory in 1986 after their first victory in 1978.
Coming a month after his team suffered the statistically largest upset in World Cup history when they were defeated by Saudi Arabia, it seems even more incredible.
“I cannot believe that we have suffered so much in a perfect game. Unbelievable, but this team responds to everything,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said.
“I am proud of the work they did. With the blows we received today, this makes you emotional. I want to tell people to enjoy, it’s a historic moment for our country.”
Argentina dominated the first hour, outrunning and outfighting a flat French team aiming to become the first team since Brazil 60 years ago to win the title. There was no sign of the drama that was to come.
After 23 minutes, the recalled Di Maria scored a goal after beating Ousmane Dembele and being fouled, which Messi converted.
After 36 minutes, Nahuel Molina, Messi, Julian Alvarez, and Alexis Mac Allister’s instinctive passing led to Di Maris scoring the second, one of the best goals ever scored in a final.
Before Nicolas Otamendi tripped Randal Kolo Muani in the 80th minute, France barely fired a shot, and Mbappe, who had been anonymous before, skillfully converted the penalty.
After cleverly combining with Marcus Thuram, he swept in a brilliant volley a minute later to bring the game level. This stunned the affluent Argentine fans who were watching their team lose two quick goals for the third time during the tournament.
Messi pounced on the rebound with a rare right-footed finish, technology confirming the ball had crossed the line, and Argentina regained the lead after a counterattack when the tireless Lautaro Martinez hit Hugo Lloris in the head.
However, the drama did not end there. In the 117th minute, Mbappe won a penalty with a shot against Montiel’s arm. He calmly converted it for an incredible hat trick and an eighth goal that topped the tournament.
He and Messi both changed over the initial spot-kicks of the shootout however at that point needed to remain back and let their colleagues choose their fate.
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