2018 World Cup final France beats Croatia as Pogba, Mbappe, Griezmann shine

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france-beat-croatia

france-beat-croatia

The French national team was crowned world champions after defeating a battle-weary Croatian team 4-2 in the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday.

This added to its second World Cup title and its first since it hosted the 1998 tournament 20 years ago.

Les Bleus manager Didier Deschamps was the captain in 1998 when his team shocked Brazil in Paris, and on Sunday he became the third to ever win the World Cup as a player and coach.

In a match that featured an own goal, a goalkeeper gaffe, pitch invaders and a teenager wunderkind finding the back of the net, France rolled to a convincing 4-1 lead and managed to hold on to earn its second star.

A  penalty-kick goal from Antoine Griezmann and goals from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe were enough to lift one of the pre-tournament favorites to the title, capping off a magnificent run in the group stage and the knockout stage that featured wins over Australia, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium.

Croatia had started full of energy and vigour but fell behind when Mandzukic, who scored the extra time winner against England in the semi-final, became the first man to score an own goal in a World Cup final when a Griezmann free kick skidded in off his head in the 18th minute. It was the 12th own goal of the tournament.

That meant it was the fourth successive knockout game that Croatia had conceded first but Perisic, who got the equaliser against England, was on hand again to level the scores 10 minutes later, smashing in a low shot after Sime Vrsaljko had headed Luka Modric’s free kick across the box.

But it was then Perisic’s turn go from hero to zero when he flapped an arm at a corner and, after a VAR review, Argentine referee Nestor Pitana awarded the 28th penalty of the tournament, another record, which Griezmann stroked home in the 38th minute for his fourth goal of Russia 2018.

That made it the highest-scoring first half since 1974, when West Germany led the Netherlands 2-1 – also the final score then.

It was harsh on Croatia, who had made most of the running, and they were on top again after the break, continually winning their one-on-one duels in the air.