This game was everything today. With the entire world watching and two of the sport’s biggest stars, and club teammates at Paris Saint-Germain squaring off head-to-head for the title, these two teams delivered arguably the best World Cup final of all-time. The final game ended fittingly with football’s greatest player, Lionel Messi, finally winning a World Cup.
Argentina had dominated the bulk of the match, leading 2-0 with just about 10 minutes to go, but France suddenly burst into life with star forward Kylian Mbappé scoring twice in as many minutes. Chances were on both sides in the extra time, Argentina making it 3-2 after an incredible save by Hugo Lloris against Martinez, Lionel Messi’s shot crossed the goal line. A whole world thought the match was over, but to everyone’s amazement the show continued with the award of a penalty in the 117th minute for France, which Mbappé himself converted without hesitation. One of the most dramatic major sporting events in history saw the teams tied 3-3 after extra time, with the French ultimately missing twice in the shootout before Gonzalo Montiel converted to seal an exhausting and emotional victory.
The game capped a month of sporting drama in Qatar. The tournament featured surprise results, as the incredible run that the Moroccan team had until the semi-finals or Saudi Arabia’s victory in their match against Argentina, an incredible 2-1 win for Saudi Arabia that did not predict a long run for the argentinians at this World Cup, but everything was the other way around, the final saw two giants of the game compete for the title, headlined by a pair of diminutive stars.
Mbappé solidified his claim as the young pretender to Messi’s throne, with the speedy and skillful forward scoring a hat-trick as France came so close to being the first team to go back-to-back since Brazil in 1962. However, his age still gives him a chance to achieve this performance, being only 23 years old he still has to play in the World Cups to come and he will surely show us at least the same incredible game he had in the final against Argentina.
Messi became the first player in World Cup history to score in the group stage, round of 16, quarter-final, semi-final and final in a single edition of the tournament. Ultimately he took the glory, securing the trophy that cements his status as perhaps the game’s greatest ever player as the 35-year-old bows out on the global stage by sealing a third title for his soccer-mad nation. One thing is for sure, the whole of Argentina will not sleep in the days to come, a fabulous achievement for the Argentine team that adds the third star on its jersey, the other two having been obtained after the triumph at the 1978 and 1986 World Cup.
Photos by @rahul_fe