Argentina beats France on penalties at FIFA World Cup final
Argentina won their third World Cup in an extraordinary final on Sunday as they beat France 4-2 on penalties after Lionel Messi scored twice in a 3-3 draw that featured a hat-trick for Kylian Mbappe as the holders recovered from 2-0 down.
It was an extraordinary night of drama, high emotion and fluctuating fortunes, delivering one of the all-time great finals to cap a wonderful tournament as its two star players delivered command performances on the biggest stage of all.
Argentina had looked to be cruising to a one-sided victory after Messi's penalty and a brilliant goal by Angel Di Maria in the first half put them in total control but Mbappe converted an 80th-minute penalty and volleyed in an equaliser a minute later to take the game to extra time.
Messi put Argentina ahead again but Mbappe levelled with another penalty, becoming the second man to score a World Cup final hat-trick after England's Geoff Hurst in 1966.
That took the game to a shootout where Argentina keeper Emiliano Martinez saved Kingsley Coman's effort and Aurelien Tchouameni fired wide to give Gonzalo Montiel to chance to win it, which he gleefully took.
Argentina have now won six of their seven World Cup shootouts, including the quarter-final against the Netherlands a week ago when they also blew a 2-0 lead, while France have lost three of five, but with two of those defeats coming in finals.
It meant that after his record 26th World Cup match, at the fifth and final time of asking, the 35-year-old Messi claimed the trophy he demanded, lifting him up alongside Diego Maradona, the country’s first football God who carried them to their emotional second triumph in 1986 following their first in 1978.
It seems all the more incredible coming a month after his team began the tournament by suffering