On Sunday, Argentina won their third World Cup in spectacular fashion, defeating France 4-2 on penalties following a 3-3 draw that featured a hat-trick for Kylian Mbappe as the hosts rallied from a 2-0 deficit after 80 minutes. Lionel Messi scored twice in the draw.
It was a tremendous night of drama and shifting fortunes that culminated in one of the greatest finals in tournament history.
Messi’s penalty and Angel Di Maria’s outstanding goal in the first half gave Argentina what appeared to be a lopsided victory, but Mbappe’s conversion of a penalty in the 80th minute and volley goal a minute later forced extra time.
Messi gave Argentina the lead once more, but Mbappe equalised with another penalty, becoming the second player, after Geoff Hurst for England in 1966, to score a hat trick in a World Cup final.
As a result, the game went to a penalty shootout where Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez saved Kingsley Coman’s attempt and Aurelien Tchouameni missed, giving Gonzalo Montiel the opportunity to win, which he gladly did.
The 35-year-old Messi was finally able to lift up Diego Maradona after the country’s first football god led them to their emotional second victory in 1986 after their first in 1978 thanks to his record-breaking 26th World Cup match. This meant that after his record-breaking 26th World Cup match, at the fifth and final time of asking, Messi finally received the trophy that he and his country demanded.
Earlier, everything seemed to be moving along without a hitch.
Di Maria, who had only played a few minutes since the group stage, appeared dangerous right away. After leaving Ousmane Dembele reeling with a deft turn after 23 minutes, the bewildered Frenchman clumsily tripped him from behind.
After taking the penalty shot and coolly guiding the ball low past Hugo Lloris, Di Maria returned to the spotlight after 36 minutes when he completed one of the best goals to ever grace a championship game.
Alexis MacAllister received a first-time clearing that Nahuel Molina cushioned, and he immediately sent the ball to Messi. Julian Alvarez clipped it back to the attacker after the captain made a great turn and layoff at halfway. Mac Allister advanced and slid the ball perfectly across the field for Di Maria to collect in his stride and score after Julian Alvarez clipped it back to him.
After just 41 minutes, France’s coach Didier Deschamps made a quick decision, removing Oliver Giroud and Moussa Dembele and replacing them with Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani.
It had little effect until Kolo Muani was fouled by Nicolas Otamendi in the 80th minute, and Mbappe, who had been previously unnoticed, skillfully scored the penalty.
After combining skillfully with Thuram a minute later, he scored an equaliser that stunned the gathered Argentine supporters watching their team let up two goals in a row for the third time this tournament.
After a counterattack, the tenacious Lautaro Martinez slammed a shot at Hugo Lloris, and Messi pounced on the rebound, with technology confirming the ball had crossed the line. Argentina regained the lead.
The drama was not over, though, as in the 117th minute, Mbappe calmly converted another penalty after smashing a shot against Montiel’s arm.