Messiah Messi adds final piece of silverware to his haul

In one of the most thrilling FIFA World Cup finals ever played, Argentina take France’s World Cup crown as Lionel Scaloni’s side lift their third World Cup on penalties.

Lionel Messi kisses the World Cup trophy (Credit: CNN)

A France win seemed like an unlikely outcome with ten minutes remaining, however, they fought back from two goals down to draw level, sending the game to extra time. The Argentinians were the team on top in the first half and they deservedly took a two-goal lead courtesy of goals from Lionel Messi and Ángel Di María. The French were unable to retain their World Cup title but the win for Argentina finally adds the missing trophy in Messi’s mantlepiece.

Both sides approached the game with caution in the opening minutes – waiting for their opponent to make the first move. Argentina were the dominant side soon after though and Alexis Mac Allister’s shot from outside the box went straight into the gloves of Hugo Lloris. The French couldn’t handle Argentina’s attacking threat and Ousmane Dembélé gave away a soft penalty with 23 minutes played as he brought down Di María inside the box. Messi subsequently stepped up and sent Lloris the wrong way to open the scoring.

Argentina continued to dominate and a quick counter-attack resulted in another goal as Mac Allister set up Di María who slotted home to double their advantage. Didier Deschamps acted quickly by making a double substitution as Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembélé were replaced by Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani – the latter went on to make a real difference in the game.

Despite the two substitutions at the end of the first half, France were unable to test the Argentina backline and halve the deficit. It was nearly a third for Argentina with 60 minutes on the clock as Di María passed to Messi but Adrien Rabiot intervened with an excellent challenge. Argentina were controlling the game and especially in midfield where Mac Allister, Enzo Fernández and Rodrigo De Paul were pulling the strings for the Argentineans.

Les Bleus were beginning to make more of an impact on the game and Mbappé was the man to save the French. They were given a lifeline when Nicolás Otamendi brought down Thuram inside the box and Mbappé slotted home the spot-kick. Argentina were now trying to hold onto their lead but a minute after France’s first goal, Thuram passed to Mbappé to ruthlessly slot home on the volley. Messi nearly got the winner a few minutes into additional time but his shot was expertly tipped over by Lloris.

Into the first half of extra time now and after an uneventful first half, both teams went into the second half knowing a win would be their country’s third World Cup victory. Three minutes into the second half, Messi got his second when Lautaro Martínez’s shot was saved but Messi scored the rebound despite Jules Koundé’s attempt to clear it off the line.

There was another twist in the tale with a few minutes remaining when Mbappé’s shot struck the arm of Gonzalo Montiel inside the box. Szymon Marciniak awarded the penalty and Mbappé slotted the ball into the Argentinean goal. France nearly completed the comeback soon after as Kolo Muani was sent through on goal but Emi Martínez kept his side in the game with an excellent save. Penalties awaited…

Mbappé and Messi scored the first two for their respective sides, but Coman’s spot-kick was saved and Argentina took the advantage when Paulo Dybala slotted home. Aurélien Tchouaméni missed and Leandro Paredes scored to give Argentina a 3-1 lead. Despite Kolo Muani’s superb penalty, Montiel had the chance to win it and he did – making Argentina the 2022 World champions.

This game summarised the World Cup in a nutshell. Brilliant goals, excellent support and incredible drama – it was certainly a final to remember. Despite the controversies off the pitch, it delivered on it with some amazing upsets and performances. Messi finally added the missing trophy in his mantlepiece following a magnificent showing by both teams – what a game it was.

Argentina: Martínez, Molina (Montiel 90′), Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico (Dybala 120+1′), De Paul (Paredes 102′), Fernández, Mac Allister (Pezzella 116′), Messi, Álvarez (La.Martínez 103′), Di María (Acuña 64′)

Unused substitutes: Armani, Foyth, Rulli, Palacios, Correa, Almada, Gómez, Rodríguez, Li.Martínez

France: Lloris, Koundé (Disasi 120+1), Varane (Konaté 113′), Upamecano, Hernández (Camavinga 71′), Tchouaméni, Rabiot (Fofana 96′), Dembélé (Kolo Muani 41′), Griezmann (Coman 71′), Mbappé, Giroud (Thuram 41′)

Unused substitutes: Pavard, Guendouzi, Veretout, Mandanda, Saliba, Aréola

Referee: Szymon Marciniak

Assistant referees: Pawel Sokolnicki & Tomasz Listkiewicz

Fourth official: Ismail Elfath

Attendance: 88,966 

Star men: Lionel Messi (Argentina) & Kylian Mbappé (France)


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