France became world champions for the first time in 20 years with a dramatic World Cup final victory over Croatia.
Unlike many previous finals, this six-goal thriller provided a fitting end to a remarkable tournament in Russia.
Croatia will consider themselves unlucky after going behind to a Mario Mandzukic own goal and then a harsh VAR awarded penalty, with Ivan Perisic scoring a screamer in between.
Brilliant second-half goals from Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe took the game beyond the tiny nation, although late hope was salvaged when Mandzukic capitalised on a Hugo Lloris howler.
Nonetheless, the French held their nerves to earn the greatest prize in world football after the highest-scoring final since 1966.
The Vatreni did not deserve to find themselves behind in the first-half, but twice they did.
Mandzukic, so prolific with his head, climbed too high for his own good and flicked Griezmann’s free-kick into his own net on 19 minutes.
The award of the free-kick was undoubtedly soft, with little contact on Griezmann, and the Croatians were quite rightly aggrieved.
But they found a spectacular route back into the game through the excellent Perisic. The unstoppable winger shifted the ball onto his left and fired a breath-taking strike past Lloris in the 28th minute.
Perisic was the first-half’s standout performer, but he was unfairly held responsible for France’s second.
VAR stole the spotlight towards the end of the first-half when Perisic was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box after referee Nestor Pitana reviewed the incident. Again, it was soft but Griezmann made no mistake from the spot.
Les Bleus took the game away from Croatia in the second-half, however their third was also against the run of play. Pogba started the move and finished it by wrong-footing the goalkeeper from the edge of the box.
Mbappe then became only the second teenager to score in a World Cup final after Pele in 1958 and it was a strike the great Brazilian would’ve been proud of. A thunderous effort into the corner from 20 yards. It’s frightening to think what he may go on to achieve.
That should’ve been the World Cup won for France, but a moment of madness from their captain made things interesting.
Lloris, for reasons only he knows, tried to skip past Manzukic on his goal line. The striker completed a simple tackle-come-shot into the empty net with 20 minutes to go.
But it proved irrelevant. Despite Croatia’s incredible efforts, France came out on top after a World Cup which will go down in history as one of the greatest ever.
This was a coming of age for Pogba. Up against two of the world’s greatest midfielders in Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, he was the one who stole the headlines. His crucial third goal was all his own work, following his beautiful pass out wide and finishing it off with a classy finish. What a stage to turn up on.
Moment of the match
Mbappe’s strike was as memorable as it was historic. At 19-years-old, he has already reached the pinnacle of football and there is no limit to what he can become.
Source : TalkSport