The final of the 22nd FIFA World Cup brought together two footballing giants France and Argentina on Sunday evening brought as much thrill and heartbreak as any fan could hope for.
The first half saw Argentina assert dominance over defending champions France as a penalty was awarded against a foul by France in the 20th minute. With a cool head, Argentina captain and arguably the best player in the world Lionel Messi slotted a goal in the bottom right of the net.
Just 15 minutes later and Argentina was driving home the advantage with an excellent passage down the right of the pitch before a cross found striker Di María who with one deft touch put his team 2-0 up.
As the first half drew to a close, France were unable to make up the deficit and many fans might have been losing hope of defending the world title – a feat only achieved by Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962).
Mbappé turns the game around
The thought of capitulating clearly never crossed the mind of the French team which came out fighting in the second half. A foul in the 78th minute took down France's Kolo Muani inside the penalty box. Stepping up to take the strike was Kylian Mbappé, who beat Martínez to make it 2-1.
Still one goal down, France was clearly energised by their first goal and set out in search of an equaliser. This they were awarded just two minutes later as in the 80th minute Mbappé dealt a killer blow, sending a volley rocketing into the bottom right. 2-2 as elated spectators – among them France's President Emanuel Macron – looked on.
With scores level after 90 minutes, the game went to extra time and excitement rose to fever pitch.
At 108 minutes, Messi again had his nation crying with joy as a melée at the mouth of the French goal saw him catch a rebound to knock the ball across the line. The ball was cleared out of the goal before hitting the back of the net, leading to a brief moment of uncertainty as replay footage was checked to confirm the goal and that it hadn't been preceded by an off-side pass.
The goal being given, France again found themselves on the back foot. Yet they were awarded a corner in the 115th minute. After a cross to the centre of a crowded box, the ball was knocked away from the mouth of the goal but Mbappé was amazingly there and took aim. Yet his thunder shot found the arm of Argentina's Montiel, leading to a penalty. And who else to take it but Mbappé himself.
Never in any doubt, France's golden boy found the back of the net to bring the scores level and bag a hat-trick – the first to do so in a final in almost 60 years.
Perhaps the most exhilarating final in living memory, the match would be decided in a penalty shoot-out and Argentina finally realised their dream to strike the killer blow.
France's Kingsley Coman and Aurélien Tchouameni weren't able to secure their strikes whilst Argentina scored four consecutive penalties to win their third World Cup title.
Hispanic commentators when Argentina wins the World Cup is emotional af!! Listen to the passion in my mans voice. pic.twitter.com/MrZiLVzdCN— EddieVR (@sauceddie) December 18, 2022