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FIFA WC: Argentina and Messi are World Champions

Last updated on: December 19, 2022 00:41 IST
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Argentina captain Lionel Messi  lifts the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Winner's Trophy at Lusail Stadium on Sunday

IMAGE: Argentina captain Lionel Messi lifts the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Winner's Trophy at Lusail Stadium on Sunday. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Argentina won their third World Cup in extraordinary style on Sunday, beating France 4-2 in a penalty shootout 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 after 80 minutes.

It was an incredible night of drama and fluctuating fortunes, delivering one of the all-time great finals to cap a wonderful tournament.

 

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.

France's Marcus Thuram in action with Argentina's Lionel Messi and Nahuel Molina

IMAGE: France's Marcus Thuram in action with Argentina's Lionel Messi and Nahuel Molina. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Messi put Argentina ahead again but Mbappe levelled with another penalty, becoming the second man to score a World Cup final hat-trick after Geoff Hurst for England in 1966.

That took the game to a shootout where Argentina keeper Emiliano Martinez saved Kingsley Coman's penalty and Aurelien Tchouameni fired wide to give Gonzalo Montiel to chance to win it, which he gleefully took.

Argentina's Rodrigo De Paul shoots past France's Theo Hernandez

IMAGE: Argentina's Rodrigo De Paul shoots past France's Theo Hernandez Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

It meant that after his record 26th World Cup match, at the fifth and final time of asking, the 35-year-old Messi finally claimed the trophy that he and his nation demanded, lifting him up alongside Diego Maradona after the country’s first football God carried them to their emotional second triumph in 1986, following their first in 1978.

It had all looked to be going so smoothly earlier.

 Argentina's Julian Alvarez controls the ball against France's Dayot Upamecano and Jules Kounde

IMAGE: Argentina's Julian Alvarez controls the ball against France's Dayot Upamecano and Jules Kounde Photograph: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Di Maria, with just a few minutes under his belt since the group stage, looked dangerous from the start and when he left Ousmane Dembele flailing with a neat turn, the flummoxed Frenchman clumsily tripped him from behind after 23 minutes.

Messi took the penalty, calmly steering the ball low beyond Hugo Lloris and then Di Maria took centre stage again after 36 minutes when he finished off one of the best goals to grace a final.

Nahuel Molina cushioned a first-time clearance to Alexis Mac Allister, who instantly played the ball to Messi. The captain changed the direction of attack with a great turn and layoff on halfway, Julian Alvarez clipped it back to Mac Allister, who advanced and slid the ball perfectly across the field for Di Maria to take in his stride and slot home.

France had barely had a kick and coach Didier Deschamps took decisive action, hauling off Oliver Giroud and Dembele and throwing on Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani after 41 minutes.

Argentina's Angel Di Maria is fouled by France's Ousmane Dembele leading to a penalty to Argentina

IMAGE: Argentina's Angel Di Maria is fouled by France's Ousmane Dembele leading to a penalty to Argentina. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

It made little impact until they were given a lifeline in the 80th minute when Nicolas Otamendi tripped Kolo Muani and Mbappe, previously anonymous, expertly converted the penalty.

A minute later he swept in a brilliant equalising volley after combining cleverly with Thuram, stunning the massed Argentine fans watching their team concede two quick-fire goals for the third time in the tournament.

 Lionel Messi of Argentina scores the team's third goal past Hugo Lloris of France as Jules Kounde attempts to clear

IMAGE: Argentina's Lionel Messi scores the team's third goal past France's Hugo Lloris as Jules Kounde attempts to clear. Photograph: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Argentina regained the lead after a counter-attack when the tireless Lautaro Martinez smashed a shot at Hugo Lloris and Messi pounced on the rebound, technology confirming the ball had crossed the line.

The drama was not over, however, as Mbappe hammered a shot against the arm of Montiel to produce another penalty in the 117th minute, which he calmly dispatched.

Emiliano Martinez of Argentina concedes the first penalty to Kylian Mbappe of France in the penalty shootout

IMAGE: Argentina's Emiliano Martinez concedes the first penalty to France's Kylian Mbappe in the WC Final penalty shootout. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates alongside Nicolas Otamendi, Lautaro Martinez and teammates after winning the World Cup

IMAGE: Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates alongside Nicolas Otamendi, Lautaro Martinez and teammates after winning the World Cup. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
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IPL 2023

IPL 2023