Inspired by Lionel Messi of Argentina win the World Cup after defeating France in a thrilling final | CNN


Lionel Messi’s wait for World Cup glory is finally over after Argentina beat France in a thrilling penalty shootout on Sunday.

It was a final for the ages, as the momentum swung both ways during 120 volatile minutes before Gonzalo Montiel scored the winning penalty after the match finished 3-3 after extra time.

Messi, playing in his fifth and final World Cup, scored twice but France’s Kylian Mbappe scored a stunning goal – the first in a final since 1966 – as both stars brilliantly pared it on the biggest stage of all.

Messi’s penalty and Angel Di Maria’s goal in the first half seemed to seal the tie in normal time, but Mbappe scored two late goals – one from the penalty spot – in just a few minutes to level the French side.

With both sides feeling the effects of the fantastic finish, Messi appeared to score in the 108th minute, but Mbappe once again equalized from the penalty spot to take the match to penalties.

France’s Kingsley Coman saw a penalty saved by Emiliano Martinez, who was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper, and Aurelien Tchoameni pulled an effort before Montiel secured Argentina their third World Cup title and first since 1986.

Having won seven Ballons d’Or, lifted 38 trophies and played more than 1,000 matches in his career, the World Cup was the only title missing from Messi’s collection.

Perhaps it is fitting that the 35-year-old snatched that elusive title in such a fine match.

He now matches his hero Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to the World Cup 36 years ago, and has also staked his claim to being the greatest player in history.

After all the hype that started Sunday’s clash, it was Argentina who started the better of the two teams, pressing France hard and forcing them to make mistakes.

Messi looked sharp from the start, gaining pockets of space and pitting attacks, while Mbappe didn’t see much of the ball during the early stages.

In the 23rd minute, Di Maria was adjudged to have been brought down in the penalty area by Ousmane Dembele. Once the penalty kick was awarded, all eyes turned to Messi.

Gonzalo Montiel celebrates scoring the winning penalty kick for Argentina.

Despite the nation’s weight and the world’s eyes on him, the great No. 10 kept his cool and made it past Hugo Lloris.

There was an outpouring of emotion from the thousands of Argentine fans who outnumbered their French counterparts inside Lusail Stadium.

The goal saw Messi become the first player to score in the group stage, round of 16, quarter-final, semi-final and World Cup final, according to Opta.

After the opening match, Argentina grew stronger as France fell off the pace. The World Cup final was no slow start, and France found themselves trailing 2-0 going into the break after Di Maria finished off a transfer that Messi had started.

France coach Didier Deschamps wasted no time in turning things around, replacing Olivier Giroud and Dembele before halftime, but it made little difference at the start as Argentina continued their dominance in the second half.

But just when it looked like the trophy was on its way to Argentina, France were handed a lifeline after Randall Kolo Mwane was brought down in the penalty area, and Mbappe, who had been sidelined for most of the match, scored the resulting penalty in the 80th minute.

The momentum changed abruptly when, out of nowhere, France found a burst of energy and Mbappe fired in a stunning equalizer just a minute later.

The action continued into overtime with chances for both sides.

Messi catches a stray ball to poke it over the line. But Mbappe did not finish, and the 23-year-old completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot in front of a stunned stadium.

Although it wasn’t enough to inspire France to back-to-back World Cup titles, Mbappe’s third goal secured him the Golden Boot – awarded to the tournament’s top scorer, after he scored eight goals for Qatar, becoming only the second player, after Geoff Hurst in 1966. , to score three times in the final.

The drama continued in the penalty shootout as both Messi and Mbappe scored their tries before Argentina goalkeeper Martinez stepped in to do his part for his country.

As the dust settled on an unparalleled final, Messi – who was named player of the tournament – was left with the gold trophy he and Argentina had worked so hard to win.

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