Argentina won their third World Cup after defeating France in an enthralling final today.
La Albiceleste dominated the early stages of the match. Alexis Mac Allister struck an effort from distance straight at Hugo Lloris, Rodrigo De Paul saw his strike deflected wide, and Angel Di Maria blazed over the bar with his weaker right foot.
Their pressure eventually told with the opening goal. Di Maria twisted past Ousmane Dembele, who proceeded to foul the Juventus man.
Lionel Messi stepped up to the spot and coolly rolled his penalty into the bottom right corner. This was his sixth of the tournament, taking him ahead of opponent Kylian Mbappe in the Golden Boot race.
Not long afterwards, Lionel Scaloni’s men doubled their advantage with a frightening counter-attack. Messi combined with Julian Alvarez, who fed Mac Allister. The Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder slid the ball across to Di Maria, and he placed the ball past Lloris.
As for France, it was a nightmare first half. Dembele and Olivier Giroud were both substituted before the break, and the half time whistle went without Les Bleus registering a single attempt.
For much of the second half, it seemed as if Argentina were set to cruise to the trophy. That was until the 80th minute, when Nicolas Otamendi fouled Randal Kolo Muani to concede a penalty. Kylian Mbappe converted his spot kick to give France a lifeline.
And just moments later, he grabbed an equaliser. The forward exchanged passes with Marcus Thuram and unleashed a fierce volley into the far corner for his seventh of the competition.
In the depths of injury time, Messi came close to bagging a dramatic late winner, but saw his long-range strike turned over the bar by Lloris. The scores were level at full time, taking the game to extra time.
In the first half of the extended period, substitute Lautaro Martinez had two huge chances to put Argentina back in front.
First, he was fed by Messi but had an effort blocked by Dayot Upamecano, then he poked wide after being picked out by Marcos Acuna.
Early in the second half, it looked like Argentina had found the winning goal when they went back in front. Martinez’s shot was saved by Lloris, but Messi was on hand to bundle the ball over the line.
But even then, there was more drama to come. Mbappe’s shot was blocked by the arm of Gonzalo Montiel, and the referee pointed to the spot for the third time.
The Paris Saint-Germain man confidently tucked away his penalty for his hat-trick – only the second player to net three in a World Cup final.
Right at the death, both sides squandered glorious opportunities to win it. Kolo Muani went through on goal, but saw his shot well saved by Emiliano Martinez.
Argentina then counter-attacked, which resulted in Lautaro Martinez heading wide. But there wasn’t a final goal, taking the game to a penalty shoot-out.
Mbappe was the first to take, and he scored his third penalty of the game. Messi was next, and he also converted his effort.
Kingsley Coman was up next, but Martinez kept it out. Paulo Dybala followed, and he put Argentina ahead.
Next up to the spot was Aurelien Tchouameni, who put his penalty wide of the left-hand post. Leandro Paredes stepped up and slammed his effort into the bottom corner to give La Albiceleste a commanding lead.
Kolo Muani was next, knowing that a miss would hand the trophy to Argentina. He wasn’t fazed by this, powering his penalty into the roof of the net.
Montiel was the fourth to take for Argentina, with the opportunity to win the shoot-out. Under immense pressure, he kept his nerve and sent Lloris the wrong way to win it.
France missed the chance to become only the third nation to win back-to-back World Cups. Mbappe won the Golden Boot with eight goals, but this will likely come as little consolation.
On the other hand, Argentina got their hands on their third World Cup trophy, and their first since 1986. Additionally, Messi was handed the Golden Ball, and Enzo Fernandez won the Young Player of the Tournament award.
Emiliano Martinez (8/10) – Could do little about the goals. Made a crucial save from Kolo Muani late on and kept out Coman’s effort in the shoot-out.
Nahuel Molina (6/10) – Handled Mbappe well for the first 80 minutes. Lost concentration for the equaliser.
Cristian Romero (6/10) – Came under little pressure for much of the game. Could have done more to prevent France’s comeback.
Nicolas Otamendi (4/10) – Crumbled under the pressure late on. Carelessly conceded the penalty which allowed France a way back into the game.
Nicolas Tagliafico (6/10) – Kept Dembele quiet. Struggled more with Kolo Muani.
Rodrigo De Paul (7/10) – Ran relentlessly and helped his side control large parts of the game.
Enzo Fernandez (7/10) – Controlled the game while Argentina were ahead. One of many who lost their heads when France came back.
Alexis Mac Allister (8/10) – Ran the show in the middle of the park. Assisted Di Maria’s goal.
Lionel Messi (9/10) – The highlight of his astonishing career. Involved in everything his side did going forward, and scored twice. Also took his penalty well in the shoot-out.
Julian Alvarez (7/10) – Caused plenty of problems for the French backline. Contributed to the second goal.
Angel Di Maria (9/10) – Came back into the starting XI and shone. Brilliant work to win the penalty, and finished off a fine counter-attack to make it 2-0.
Marcos Acuna (7/10)
Gonzalo Montiel (7/10)
Leandro Paredes (6/10)
Lautaro Martinez (5/10)
German Pezzella (6/10)
Paulo Dybala (7/10)
Hugo Lloris (6/10) – Made a couple of impressive saves during regular play. Saved zero of four in the shoot-out.
Jules Kounde (5/10) – Offered little going forward and was often beaten at the back.
Raphael Varane (5/10) – Did little to contain the threat of Argentina’s frontline.
Dayot Upamecano (5/10) – Started off poorly, but got better as the game went on.
Theo Hernandez (3/10) – Struggled defensively and sloppy on the ball.
Aurelien Tchouameni (4/10) – Got overran for the majority of the game. Put his penalty wide in the shoot-out.
Adrien Rabiot (5/10) – Couldn’t maintain any control for the first 80 minutes. Grew into the game in the closing stages.
Ousmane Dembele (2/10) – Poor at every opportunity. Conceded a penalty and kept losing the ball. Substituted in the first half.
Antoine Griezmann (4/10) – Made very little impact on the game. Substituted in the second half.
Kylian Mbappe (9/10) *MOTM* – Quiet for the first 80 minutes before exploding into life. Scored a brilliant volley and took all three of his penalties well.
Olivier Giroud (4/10) – Completely isolated. Didn’t get a sight of goal. Substituted before half time.
Randal Kolo Muani (8/10) – Completely changed the game when he came on. Won the penalty and scored his effort in the shoot-out. Missed a brilliant chance right at the end to win it.
Marcus Thuram (7/10)
Eduardo Camavinga (6/10)
Kingsley Coman (4/10)
Youssouf Fofana (5/10)
Ibrahima Konate (5/10)
Axel Disasi (NA/10)
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