Lionel Messi underscored his claims of being the greatest footballer in history as Argentina prevailed on penalties after sharing a World Cup final for the ages with France.
Argentina led 2-0 at halftime and 3-2 in extra time, with Messi scoring twice either side of a goal from the exceptional Angel Di Maria.
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But Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe became the second man in World Cup final history to score a hat-trick, twice holding his nerve from the penalty spot in a pulsating 3-3 draw.
He did so again at the start of the shootout, but Kinglsey Coman’s spot-kick was saved by Emiliano Martinez and Aurelien Tchoumeni fired wide. Messi, Paulo Dybala and Leandro Paredes all converted, leaving Gonzalo Montiel to send Hugo Lloris the wrong way and secure his country’s third World Cup title.
Argentina vs France final score (Argentina won 4-2 on penalties)
|1st Half||2nd Half||Extra time||Final|
ARG — Lionel Messi (23 mins, pen)
ARG — Angel Di Maria (36 mins)
FRA — Kylian Mbappe (80 mins, pen)
FRA — Kylian Mbappe (81 mins)
ARG — Lionel Messi (108 mins)
FRA — Kylian Mbappe (118 mins, pen)
France were aiming to become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to retain the title but were overrun by a rampant Argentina during the first half, with Messi getting a 23rd-minute breakthrough from the spot after Ousmane Dembele brought down Di Maria.
Di Maria was a surprise selection on the left wing and tormented Les Bleus frequently before scoring one of the great World Cup final goals. Messi, Julian Alvarez and Alexis Mac Allister were all involved in a scything counter-attack that the Juventus winger dispatched with aplomb.
France coach Didier Deschamps took the extreme step of making a double substitution in the 41st minute, hauling off Olivier Giroud and the dire Dembele. Attacking duo Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram came on and both were involved as Mbappe turned the game on its head in the space of 97 seconds.
Nicolas Otamendi was caught out by Kolo Muani’s pace and sent him tumbling. Mbappe drilled his first penalty past Emiliano Martinez’s dive and he completed a slick give-and-go with Thuram to make it 2-2.
It took a while for Argentina’s heads to clear but Lautaro Martinez’s introduction gave them fresh impetus and Messi scrambled home a finish after Hugo Lloris saved the Inter Milan striker’s 108th-minute shot. Mbappe then fired a shot at Montiel’s arm and dispatched his second penalty.
Martinez went the wrong way on that occasion and in stoppage time he saved exceptionally from Kolo Muani, the only other man who would beat him in the shootout. Messi would not be denied, though — in part because of teammates like Emiliano Martinez, who refused to yield with it all on the line.