For only the third time in World Cup history, Sunday saw the winners of the competition crowned following a penalty shootout.
Roberto Baggio will never forget his miss in 1994 to give Brazil the trophy, while France themselves fell to Italy at this stage in 2006. Now, 16 years and four World Cups later, France find themselves on the losing side again in a shootout after misses from Kingsley Coman and Aurélien Tchouaméni. Both now joining fellow countryman, David Trezeguet as the only French player to miss from the spot in the final.
Gonzalo Montiel scored the deciding penalty, sending tears flowing from Argentinian fans and most neutrals who were happy to see Messi win ‘the big one’, for the third time in Argentinian history and the first time since 1986.
The greatest of games
In a World Cup marred by human rights issues, issues for teams on and off the pitch, underperforming hopefuls and some fairytale runs, it seemed destiny that France and Argentina would contest the 2022 World Cup Final in Qatar. Not only that, but they managed to save the best to last and serve fans up an instant classic to draw a line under this year’s tournament.
Monday’s headlines and back pages will be graced by Lionel Messi, who put Argentina ahead 23 minutes into the game from the penalty spot with Angela Di Maria judged to have been brought down by Ousmane Dembele. While the penalty call may have been regarded as soft, Messi duly obliged and opened the scoring with ease before Di Maria added a second before halftime, capping one of the best team goals seen at the World Cup.
Effectively dominating the game for the first 70 minutes or so, Argentina began to slow down to the point that perhaps a lapse in judgement was the reason for Nicolas Otamendi tripping Randal Kolo Muani inside the Argentine box on 80 minutes allowing Kylian Mbappé the chance to pull one back. Mbappé doubled his tally and drew the game level just over a minute later with a stunning first-time shot that beat Emi Martinez on the keeper’s left, that goal ultimately sending the game to extra time.
Still with plenty of excitement to follow, Lionel Messi bagged his second and Argentina’s third on 109 minutes but for Gonzalo Montiel to handle the ball on the opposite end of the pitch, allowing Mbappé to convert a second penalty and seal a World Cup final hat-trick, the first since the 1966 edition.
With the game set for penalties, Mbappé and Messi converted the first for each of France and Argentina but the misses from Coman and Tchouamení would prove costly as Argentina scored their remaining three with villain-turned-hero Montiel firing home the winning penalty.
Additional reporting Ken McGuire.