Goals: 1: 0 Messi (23rd / penalty), 2: 0 Di Maria (36th), 2: 1 Mbappé (80th / penalty), 2: 2 Mbappé (82nd), 3: 2 Messi (109th ), 3: 3 Mbappé (118./hand penalty)
Argentina actually did it and won the World Cup in Qatar. The team led by superstar Lionel Messi won 4-2 (3-3, 2-2, 2-0) against reigning world champions France on penalties. For a long time, the Argentines looked like the certain winners. They were comfortably leading 2-0 until just before the end of regulation time. But then France came back late with a double strike from Kylian Mbappé and forced the game into overtime. The decision was only made on penalties. There Argentina had the better end for themselves and fulfilled a long-cherished dream for themselves and the fans at home. It’s 36 years since the Argentines – then led by Diego Maradona – lifted the golden trophy for the last time.
Messi from the point ice cold
The Argentinians got off to a brisk start in front of 89,000 spectators at the Lusail Stadium and attacked the somewhat nervous-looking French early on, but initially there weren’t any clear chances to score. In the 21st minute of the game, Polish referee Szymon Marciniak awarded a penalty after Ousmane Dembelé fouled Angel Di Maria. Argentina’s superstar Lionel Messi stepped up and made it 1-0 (23rd minute). The game almost completely passed Kylian Mbappé, the French superstar. The 23-year-old was unable to set any accents against the good Argentine defence.
Instead, Argentina struck again. After a counterattack, Di Maria pushed the ball past France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to make it 2-0 (36′). Didier Deschamps, the coach of the Équipe Tricolore, reacted before the break and replaced two attackers with Olivier Giroud and Dembelé (41st). Two Bundesliga strikers, Randal Kolo Muani from Eintracht Frankfurt and Marcus Thuram from Borussia Mönchengladbach, came into the game.
Double strike by Mbappé
In the second half, Argentina continued to press hard. Just 47 seconds after the restart, Lloris had to intervene again to prevent the 3-0. France continued to miss out on scoring opportunities. Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni strengthened the defense after a good hour. Di Maria left the field to loud cheers and defender Marcos Acuna came in for him. Mbappé only got his first shot after 70 minutes, but his shot went several meters over the goal. France looked helpless, Argentina looked like the sure winner.
But then another penalty after a foul by Nicolas Otamendi on Kolo Muani brought excitement back into the game: Mbappé converted, although Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez still got his fingers on the ball (80′). Suddenly France were up to speed and just seconds later the ball was back in Argentina’s goal. Mbappé was the scorer again, this time he hit the far corner with a volley worth seeing (82nd). The game went back and forth now. There was excitement for a moment when Thuram tried to get a penalty with a swallow (87th). As Messi failed in the last chance of regular time with a powerful shot at Lloris, it went to overtime.
Penalty shootout decision
Argentina had two good chances there through substitute Lautaro Martinez. In the first, his shot was blocked by FC Bayern defender Dayot Upamecano (105′), in the second, Martinez put the ball just wide of the French goal (105’+1′). In the end it was Messi who scored the goal to make it 3-2. After a shot by Martinez was blocked, he pushed the ball into the goal from close range (109′). But that still wasn’t the decision. Penalties were awarded again because Gonzalo Montiel blocked an Mbappé shot in his own penalty area with his elbow. Mbappé converted again, this time for sure (118th). Seconds before the end, Kolo Muani had victory and with it the World Cup title on his feet: The Frankfurter was free in front of the Argentine goal, but failed with his shot at the long outstretched leg of goalkeeper Martinez. The decision had to be made on penalties.
There France Argentina had the better end for themselves. After Mbappé and Messi scored, Bayern Munich’s Kingsley Coman missed as France’s second scorer. France’s third attempt by Aurélien Tchouameni went wide. All Argentines converted their attempt. So it was clear: Argentina is world champion.