Croatia put up a fight but France ultimately roared to a 4-2 victory in the World Cup final.
Les Bleus took the lead through a Mario Mandzukic own goal before Ivan Perisic drew Zlatko Dalic’s men level.
The winger however conceded a penalty thereafter which Antoine Griezmann converted. Paul Pogba struck home in the second half before Kylian Mbappe added a fourth.
Hugo Lloris’ howler allowed Mandzukic to reduce the deficit but France held on for their second World Cup triumph.
France scored four goals from just seven shots in the final. They don’t mess about in front of goal, as long as those chances don’t fall to their first-choice striker Olivier Giroud.
In all fairness to the Chelsea man, he has contributed in a big way to France’s success with his overall play but having had 13 shots in the tournament, he never managed to direct one on target, let alone score. Fortunately for Les Bleus, his team-mates weren’t plagued by the same inaccuracy and were largely clinical.
They’ve rarely overwhelmed teams but when presented with the opportunity to hurt them, they regularly obliged. Every time Croatia built up a head of steam, France managed to score against the run of play. As has been their way in this tournament, they set up to soak up pressure and then capitalise in the transition.
Their first two goals had an element of luck of about them, as Mandzukic got the final touch on Griezmann’s free-kick before Perisic lent them a helping hand by conceding a penalty which the Atletico Madrid star tucked away.
France were hardly the dominant force at the Luzhniki Stadium or indeed over the course of the tournament, but they were a ruthless one. They were efficient, always in control and pragmatic – not unlike Germany when they reigned supreme four years ago.
HARSH ON CROATIA
The team from a country of just over four million came within touching distance of World Cup glory and have every right to feel aggrieved. Having battled their way to the showpiece event, the scoreline didn’t do them justice despite Lloris’ best efforts to make it more respectable.
They were arguably the better side against France in many aspects and boasted an intense fighting spirit. Even after going behind early on through an own goal – the first in a World Cup final – they pulled together and resumed exerting pressure on the French defence, deservedly breaching it with a fine goal from Perisic, perhaps the best of the night.
The penalty decision against the Inter Milan star was unfortunate. The ball unquestionably struck him on the hand inside the area but whether it was a deliberate motion towards the ball or if his hand was in an unnatural position remains up for debate.
After a VAR review though, referee Nestor Pitana pointed to the spot. It wasn’t necessarily the wrong decision but there was room for interpretation and another official may have been more lenient. France then powered home the advantage by adding two more goals in the second half but Croatia will feel a little let down by their keeper Danijel Subasic.
He has been excellent during the tournament and came through two penalty shootouts but he was caught flat-footed for both, the third and fourth goals. Mbappe’s effort in particular hardly seemed like the most venomous strike as it bounced its way in from distance, crossing the line closer to the Croatian custodian than the corner of the goal.
This World Cup has been quite the spectacle. It delivered 2.64 goals per match with only one fixture ending goalless when France drew to Denmark in the group stage. The tournament had more than its share of upsets, featured a fine array of spectacular goals and plenty of late drama.
The goal-fest in the final should’ve come as no surprise then. It was the highest-scoring final since 1966. The dark horses ran wild as well with the likes of Uruguay, Sweden and Russia making the final eight while England made the semi-finals. It was only fitting then Croatia represented the underdogs in a big way in the finale.
This edition will go down as one of the most entertaining in the World Cup’s rich history and the final capped it perfectly.
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A France side hallmarked by pace and power ascended to immortality as they became World Cup winners for a second time after a 4-2 win over Croatia.
PSG’s Kylian Mbappe scored his fourth goal of the tournament with an excellent strike from distance and became the second-youngest ever to score in a World Cup final.
Here, we analyse the performance of the coveted Real Madrid target.
Teenagers to score in a World Cup final? Pele and now Mbappe. He was born a few months after France’s 1998 triumph but 20 years on, he is already creating his own history with Les Bleus.
It wasn’t his best game in Russia, but then that is more indicative of his pulsating performances in the lead up because he was not phased by the magnitude of the game. No player completed more dribbles (four) and he took his goal supremely well, bulleting a crisp 25-yard strike home.
There is more to come, a frightening prospect, but this was his tournament and his final.
Confidence – Hard to believe Mbappe is still a teenager because it’s not that he plays without the fear created by experience, but that he embraces it and is driven by it. Direct and dazzling, particularly in the second half, he deserved his goal and Hero of the Day honour.
Too fast and furious – Seems a funny thing to say but Mbappe is so quick his momentum sometimes takes him in and out of dangerous positions. He raced into the box on a couple of occasions but then struggled to slow down and lost possession.
Past, present and future. Mbappe is the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pele. His performances right now point to a wonderfully gifted and joyous talent. And what is next? Greatness. A hero of this day, and many more.
All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com
In a final that produced quality when we perhaps expected caution, Mario Mandzukic’s own goal opened the scoring. Ivan Perisic’s thunderous equaliser was merited, but he then gave away the penalty from which Antoine Griezmann restored Les Bleus’ lead.
They pulled away through Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe goals in the second half, although Hugo Lloris’ inexplicable error gifted Mandzukic a goal at the other end as Croatia made things interesting.
But Didier Deschamps’ side held on as he joined Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer as the only three players to win the the World Cup as both player and coach.