France Win Their Second World Cup Title In 4-2 Win Over Croatia
Yesterday saw the curtain come down on the 2018 World Cup as France were crowned world champions for the second time with a 4-2 win over Croatia. At a packed-out stadium in Moscow, the French put on a stunning display to secure the victory.
Going into the match as favourites, France were put under early pressure by Croatia who looked dangerous going forward. Despite this, Les Bleus stood strong and eventually went in front. From a freekick, Mario Mandzukic (the man who knocked out England), headed into his own net to give France the lead.
It looked like Croatia, who were in their first ever World Cup final, had a mountain to climb but they were soon level after Ivan Perisic scored a fantastic equaliser.
VAR has played a major role in this World Cup, awarding several penalties throughout the competition and it was no different in the final. Perisic was adjudged to have handled a Matuidi header and after consulting the technology awarded a penalty. Antoine Griezmann coolly converted to ensure France went into halftime with a lead.
After the break France continued their dominance with Paul Pogba adding a third before superstar Kylian Mbappe became only the second teenager in history to score in a World Cup final to make it 4-1. The other teenager to do this was one of the greatest players of all time, Pele, who scored twice in the final in 1958 for Brazil.
Despite having such a dominant lead there was still time for another Croatia goal as Mandzukic capitalised on a Hugo Lloris howler to poke home. Despite this glimmer of hope it was clear France had the edge and the game finished 4-2.
This win gave France their second World Cup win, the first came in 1998 when their manager Didier Deschamps was a player. This makes Deschamps only the third man in history to win the World Cup as both a player and a manager, the other two being Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer.
This six-goal thriller was a fitting way to end what has been a wonderful World Cup. The fact Croatia made it to the final was indicative of how the tournament went with many of the favoured nations being knocked out early in the competition.
The holders Germany shockingly didn’t make it out of the group stage, Spain, Portugal and Argentina exited in the last 16 and Brazil only got to the quarter-finals. England also made it much further than anybody would have predicted.
The semi-final defeat to Croatia may have been hard to take at the time, but it marked England’s best World Cup performance for 28 years. The Three Lions also won a penalty shootout against Colombia in the last 16, the first time the country had ever won on penalties at the World Cup. They lost 2-0 to Belgium in the third-place playoff this weekend, but a fourth-place finish is the best the Three Lions have achieved since 1990.
This success is credited to the fantastic work done by manager Gareth Southgate over the course of this tournament, but the entire squad which incudes the likes of Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Jordan Pickford return to the UK as heroes.
With the World Cup coming to an end, it also meant a whole host of individual awards were handed out. Croatian midfielder Luka Modric won the Golden Ball for best player, Kylian Mbappe was named the tournament’s best young player, and England’s Harry Kane took the Golden Boot for top scorer.
As France celebrate, this World Cup will always be remembered for the fantastic football that was displayed and any concerns about Russia hosting the event did not arise. The only thing left to say is… roll on Qatar 2022!
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