442oons returns with the WORLD CUP FINAL reaction to all the goals, highlights and more!
After four weeks and 63 matches, it all came down to the final in Moscow and at the end of a breathless encounter, France have been crowned world champions for the second time in the history of the World Cup.
Mario Mandžukić scored at both ends of the field, Antoine Griezmann netted a controversial penalty, and Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappé and Ivan Perišić also got in on the act to leave the final score at 4-2 to Les Bleus.
A fitting finale to what has been a truly bonkers World Cup.
France 4-2 Croatia
1-0: Mandžukić OG 19′
1-1: Perišić 29′
2-1: Griezmann (p) 38′
3-1: Pogba 59′
4-1: Mbappé 65′
4-2: Mandžukić 69′
The cagey early period of the game produced few openings and the first effort on target for either side actually produced the opening goal.
A well delivered Griezmann free-kick inadvertently flicked off the head of Mandžukić and into the net for an own goal. It was the first ever own goal scored in a World Cup final.
Croatia came roaring back and in the 29th minute, they levelled the scores. A bouncing ball was brought down excellently on the edge of the area by Ivan Perišić, who fired it left-footed past Hugo Lloris for 1-1.
But five minutes later, Perišić went from hero to zero when he was responsible for giving away a controversial penalty. A corner into the area struck the Croatian winger on the hand and, after a consultation with the VAR, referee Nestor Pitana pointed to the spot.
Griezmann stepped up and calmly slotted the ball to Danijel Subašić’s right to restore the French advantage.
Early in the second half, Ante Rebić went close to finding another Croatian equaliser but his strike on goal was tipped over superbly by Lloris. Moments later, Rebić was almost put clean through on goal but Raphaël Varane and Lloris combined to clear the ball to safety.
At the other end, Mbappé almost made it 3-1 when he burst past Domagoj Vida into the box, but his effort was smothered by Subašić.
But with 58 minutes on the clock, France did get some breathing space. Griezmann laid the ball off for Pogba on the edge of the area and at the second time of asking, the Manchester United midfielder guided a left-footed shot past a static Subašić and into the net.
And the scoring didn’t end there. In the 65th minute, Mbappé found the bottom corner with a low struck shot from distance to turn a comprehensive victory into a rout. In truth, Subašić again could perhaps have done better.
The Croatian stopper’s blushes were spared somewhat moments later, however. A routine pass back to Lloris was charged down by Mandžukić and the ball found its way into the net for a farcical 4-2.
Croatia then went close to setting up an exciting finale when Ivan Rakitić’s effort rolled painfully wide of the far post.
Man of the match: Paul Pogba (France)
Pogba capped off what has been a fine tournament for him personally with a top quality midfield performance and the match winning goal.
What happens next?
France will begin the defence of their title when they face Iceland in a friendly in October, whereas Croatia are up against Portugal in September.
By Dan Burke
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Photo credits: Getty