Argentina has won the third World Cup. They beat France on penalties, after Lionel Messi had scored twice in a 3-3 draw. Kylian Mbappe also grabbed a hat trick to help them recover from 2-0 and 3-2 behind.
The final was a thrilling night full of emotion, drama and shifting fortunes. It marked the end of a great tournament. Two of its most prominent players gave commanding performances on the largest stage.
Argentina looked like they were cruising to victory. After Messi’s penalty, and an excellent goal by Angel Di Maria during the first half, Argentina was in complete control. But Mbappe converted the 80-minute penalty to give them the lead and scored a stunning equaliser just minutes later. This brought the match to the final minute.
Argentina’s Messi won again, but Mbappe equalized with another penalty. He became the second World Cup finalist after Geoff Hurst of England in 1966.
The shootout ended in Argentina’s goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saving Kingsley Coman’s attempt. Aurelien Tchouameni shot wide. Substitute full back Gonzalo Montel was then allowed to score the goal for France’s third goal. He did so by sending Hugo Lloris in the wrong direction and giving away the penalty.
This meant that Messi, 35, won the World Cup trophy after his 26th World Cup match. It was the fifth and last time he asked.
Messi said, “I wanted close my career here, it was what was missing so that I can’t ask for anything more,” after Messi has played for the country 172 times.
“I got the Copa America, and the World Cup I was so determined to win. It’s what I have at the end my professional career. However, I still love football. I would like to live a few more years as a world champion.
This victory comes a month after the team suffered statistically the worst upset in World Cup history, when it lost to Saudi Arabia.
“It is unbelievable that our team has suffered this much during a game like the one I played.” It is unbelievable, but the team reacts to everything,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni stated.
I am proud of their work. We were treated with many blows today. It’s an historic moment in our nation’s history, and I urge people to take it all in.
It was clear that the drama would unfold as Argentina won the first half, outrunning and outfighting the flat French team. They looked like they had no chance of winning the title for the first time since Brazil sixty years ago.
After Ousmane Dembele was defeated by Di Maria, they went ahead. Messi got a yellow card and Messi scored a penalty.
After 36 minutes, Di Maris scored the winning goal. This was thanks to the instinctive passing of Alexis Mac Allister, Julian Alvarez, Messi and Nahuel Molina.
France fired only one shot of anger up to the 80th minute, when Nicolas Otamendi fouled Randal Kolo Muani. Mbappe converted the penalty, which was previously unknown.
After combining with Marcus Thuram cleverly, he swept in a stunning equalizing volley. This stunned the masses of Argentine fans who were watching as their team conceded two goals in a matter of minutes.
Argentina rallied well and created several opportunities to take the lead. Lautaro Martinez, the tireless player, smashed the shot that Hugo Lloris saved. Messi, however, seized the rebound with rare right-footed finishing, technology which confirmed the ball crossed the line.
However, the drama wasn’t over as Mbappe scored a goal against Montiel in the 117th minutes to earn a penalty. He calmly scored for an incredible hat trick and tournament-leading eighth goal.
Kolo Muani had an amazing chance of grabbing it in stoppage for France but was brilliantly stopped by Martinez’s outstretched leg. The winner of all the late winners seemed certain.
Mbappe, Messi converted both the first spot-kicks in the shootout. However, they had to step back and allow their teammates decide what their fate would be.
Argentina has now won six out of seven World Cup shootouts. This includes the quarter-final match against the Netherlands last week, when they also took a 2-0 lead at the Lusail Stadium.
France is the only country to score three goals in a final, and have lost in all five of their shootouts. Two of these losses were in finals.
Didier Deschamps, France coach said that “we came back from the brink” and it is what makes him so regretful. We could have won in the final minute of extra time, but that was not what it was meant to be.
Many thousands of Argentina supporters, some wearing Number 10 Messi shirts sat in the stadium for two hours while the players, their families, and the fans took pictures of the pitch. Then, they went on a joyful lap of honour and walked around the pitch, carrying the golden trophy that was last handed to them 36 years ago.