Messi lifts World Cup as Argentina edge France on penalties in greatest ever final

Argentina won their third World Cup on Sunday, beating France 4-2 on penalties after Lionel Messi scored twice in a 3-3 draw and Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick to bring the holders back from 2-0 and 3-2 down.

It was an amazing night of drama, high emotion, and changing fortunes, providing one of the all-time great finals to finish off a fantastic tournament as its two star players gave commanding performances on the grandest platform.

Messi’s penalty and Angel Di Maria’s spectacular goal in the first half put Argentina in command, but Mbappe scored a penalty in the 80th minute and a magnificent equaliser a minute later to force extra time.
Messi retook the lead for Argentina, but Mbappe equalised with another penalty, becoming the second player after England’s Geoff Hurst in 1966 to record a World Cup final hat-trick.

Kingsley Coman’s penalty kick was saved by Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, while Aurelien Tchouameni’s attempt was off target. This afforded substitute fullback Gonzalo Montiel, who had conceded the penalty for France’s third goal, the opportunity to redeem himself, which he admirably did by sending Hugo Lloris the wrong way.

It meant that after his record-setting 26th World Cup match, in his fifth and final attempt, the 35-year-old Messi won the trophy his talent and dedication to his country demanded, elevating him alongside Diego Maradona, Argentina’s first football god, who led them to their emotional second victory in 1986 after their first in 1978.