Argentina beats France on penalties in epic World Cup final as Messi, Mbappe put on a show for the ages
Argentina beat France in the World Cup final on penalty kicks as an epic clash played out during a pulsating 3-3 draw in normal time, as Lionel Messi won his legacy defining World Cup.
The GOAT debates are now over. Lionel Messi is the greatest of all time.
This final may have been the greatest sporting event of all time.
[ MORE: List of Messi’s career honors ]
The victory secured Argentina’s third World Cup title in their history and their first since 1986. It is Lionel Messi’s first World Cup title as the 35-year-old was mobbed by his teammates at the final whistle amid tears, relief and unbridled joy.
This is what it is all about. And this game delivered one of the greatest sporting finals of all time as for just the third time in history, the World Cup was decided on penalty kicks.
Lionel Messi scored the opener and set up the second for Angel di Maria as Argentina were 2-0 up at half time but with 10 minutes of normal time to go Kylian Mbappe scored a penalty and then smashed home another soon after to make it 2-2 and send the game to extra time.
Messi put Argentina 3-2 up late in extra time as it looked like he had won it, again, for Argentina. But then Mbappe won another penalty kick and finished it to score a hat trick and make it 3-3 as he became just the second player in history to score a hat trick in the World Cup final.
Both teams had chances to win it in regulation but then Emiliano Martinez was the hero as he saved Coman’s penalty kick and Aurelien Tchouameni missed for France, as Argentina scored all four of theirs and Montiel slotted home the winning penalty kick.
Cue wild scenes in Qatar, back in Argentina and from football lovers around the world as Lionel Messi finally won the World Cup his legacy deserved.
[ MORE: World Cup final odds, favorites, lines ]
Messi gets career defining win as epic finale delivers drama galore
Lionel Messi, 35, deserves this World Cup. For everything he has given the football world over the last two decades he deserves to have won it all. He delivered throughout this tournament and now his legacy is complete. He will probably overtake Pele and Diego Maradona after this. Until he won a World Cup, the debate was always there about who is the true GOAT. Now it ends. It is Messi. France played their part with their amazing comeback to force extra time and penalty kicks but there was a feeling of destiny around Argentina winning this World Cup, which Messi said would be his last. If it is his last World Cup, talk about going out in style. In 100 years from now we will be talking about Lionel Messi and we will probably be talking about this World Cup final too.
Stars of the show
Lionel Messi: Two goals, superb display and he got his World Cup trophy. What more is there to say? The 2022 World Cup was Lionel Messi’s World Cup.
Kylian Mbappe: Hat trick and delivered when France needed him most. He scored eight goals in the World Cup to win the Golden Boot and has scored 12 goals in the World Cup across two tournaments. Among active players only Messi (13) has scored more than the 23-year-old.
Angel di Maria: Scored and won a penalty before he was taken off. What an impact the veteran had. Good decision from Scaloni to start him.
Emiliano Martinez: Saved late on superbly from Kolo Muani and was the hero in the penalty shootout with a save.
Graphic via FotMob.com
How to watch Argentina vs France live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET - Sunday, December 18Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, LusailTV channels en Español: TelemundoStreaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)
ARGENTINA WIN IT! LIONEL MESSI HAS HIS WORLD CUP! THEY WIN 4-2 ON PENALTY KICKS IN THE WORLD CUP FINAL. THAT HAS TO BE ONE OF THE GREATEST SPORTING FINALES OF ALL TIME!?
Emiliano Martinez saves from Coman and Tchouameni puts his spot kick wide. Montiel has a chance to win the World Cup for Argentina...
WE ARE GOING TO PENALTY KICKS!
Kolo Muani almost wins it! What a save from Emi Martinez. And then Lautaro Martinez almost wins it at the other end.
GOALLL! Argentina 3-3 France. Kylian Mbappe slots home the penalty kick after a handball on Montiel. Wow. Mbappe hat trick in the World Cup final.
This is a World Cup for the ages.
GOALLL! Argentina 3-2 France - Lionel Messi forces home the ball after Lautaro Martinez’s shot hits Lloris in the face and Messi bundles home.
Argentina have been much better in extra time so far.
FULL TIME - Argentina 2-2 France - They somehow hang on for extra time. France have incredible momentum. Argentina all over the place. Extra 30 minutes coming up.
This is wild. It is intense. France are all over Argentina. Lionel Messi has a shot that Hugo Lloris saves. What a moment that would have been.
GOALLL! Argentina 2-2 France - Mbappe volleys home. This is incredible. What a comeback. Just amazing.
PENALTY TO FRANCE! - Argentina 2-1. Mbappe finishes after Otamendi drags back Kolo Muani.
HALF TIME - Argentina 2-0 France - This is going perfectly for Argentina. Can France go more direct and get back in this?
Subs for France as Kolo Muani and Thuram are on for Dembele and Giroud.
GOALLL! Great counter from Argentina and some wonderful passing to find Angel di Maria and his finish is lovely. 2-0 to Argentina before half time. They are in dreamland.
Can France respond? Argentina can now sit back and hit France on the counter. It is set up perfectly for them.
GOALLLL! Lionel Messi clips home the penalty kick as he keeps his calm to send Lloris the wrong way. 1-0 to Argentina.
PENALTY TO ARGENTINA! Di Maria clipped by Dembele in the box. Huge chance for Lionel Messi to open the scoring. Argentina have started the final much better than France.
Key storylines, players to watch closely
The key battle and storyline is obviously the master against his apprentice. Will Lionel Messi, 35, win the World Cup trophy he has coveted for the lengthy of his legendary career? Or will his PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe, 23, lead France to back-to-back World Cups and the second of his young career? Elsewhere on the pitch the main battle will be fought in midfield.
The midfield trio of Enzo Fernandez, Rodrigo de Paul and Alexis Mac Allister have been sensational for Argentina, while defensively they are flexible to switch between a back four and five. Having Montiel and Acuna back from suspension gives Lionel Scaloni a selection headache as he looks to lead Argentina to their third World Cup trophy and their first since 1986 when the great Diego Maradona lead them to glory in Mexico. Can Messi do the same in Qatar? However, Messi has been nursing a sore hamstring this week and all eyes will be on him (naturally) and his fitness but he starts. Scaloni starts with a back four but Tagliafico starts ahead of Acuna at left back. Angel di Maria starts in place of Paredes, which points to Argentina having a go from the off.
As for France, well, they’ve battled their way through this tournament and the reigning champs have hardly been electric. But they’ve got the job done and are one win away from becoming just the third team in history to win back-to-back World Cups. Didier Deschamps was hit by huge injuries before this World Cup but his side have recovered extremely well with youngster stepping up. Ibrahima Konate came in for the semifinal and played very well but Dayot Upamecano starts ahead of him. Like Argentina, France still look a little shaky defensively. In midfield Antoine Griezmann is rolling back the years in his new deeper playmaker role and Aurelien Tchouameni has been superb playing in the holding role. Up top Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud are purring and give France incredible balance. Plenty of players have been hit by a sickness bug in the France camp, but all of them have recovered in time. There were also reports that Karim Benzema could return to the France squad for this final after he left just before the tournament kicked off due to injury and was never replaced but now he’s back fit. Deschamps refused to talk about that topic at length and Benzema is not included in the squad.
France quick facts
[ MORE: Argentina’s history at the World Cup ]
Current FIFA world ranking: 4
World Cup titles: 2 (1998, 2018)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group D)
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Key players: Kylian Mbappe, Hugo Lloris, Antoine Griezmann, Raphael Varane
Path to 2022 World Cup final: Finished top of Group C; beat Australia 2-1 in last 16; beat Netherlands on penalty kicks in quarterfinals; beat Croatia 3-0 in semifinals
Argentina quick facts
[ MORE: France’s history at the World Cup ]
Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Emiliano Martinez, Nicolas Otamendi, Julian Alvarez
Path to 2022 World Cup final: Finished top of Group D; beat Poland 3-1 in last 16; beat England 2-1 in quarterfinals; beat Morocco 2-0 in semifinals