Skip to content
GO TO bet365 Sports
  1. Football
  2. World Cup

World Cup Final Review: Magical Lionel Messi's dreams realised

Argentina have won the World Cup for a third time after a dramatic penalty shootout victory over defending champions France.

Billed as a contest between Paris Saint-Germain teammates Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe, the duo didn't disappoint as they put on a show at Lusail Iconic Stadium.

In his final act at a World Cup, Messi once again demonstrated why he is regarded as one of the greatest players to ever step foot on a pitch.

The former Barcelona man bagged twice to end Argentina's 36-year wait to lift the greatest prize in international football.

It follows on from Argentina's success in the Copa America last year and means Messi has won every trophy available at club and international level.

Argentina earn early advantage

France appeared to freeze under the bright lights at Lusail Iconic Stadium in the first half as Argentina rose to the occasion.

It was a dominant display from the South American giants in the opening 45 minutes as they denied defending champions France a shot on or off target.

Argentina created plenty and their pressure eventually told in the 23rd minute when Angel di Maria was brought down in the box by Ousmane Dembele.

Messi made no mistake from 12 yards, scoring his sixth goal of the competition to hand La Albiceleste a well-deserved lead.

History was made with that strike as Messi became the first man to score in every knockout game at a World Cup under the 32-team format.

Les Bleus failed to show a response to going behind and they were caught by a slick counter-attack in the 36th minute.

Starting inside their own half, Argentina moved the ball neatly through the thirds before Brighton's Alexis Mac Allister sent Di Maria through on goal and the former Paris Saint-Germain star drilled home.

Decisive Deschamps turns game in France's favour

Frustrated at France's inability to gain a foothold in the game, head coach Didier Deschamps turned to his bench to make a double change before half time.

Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani came on for Olivier Giroud and Dembele and they gave Les Bleus a bit more purpose as they started to carve out chances.

However, with nothing to show on the scoresheet, Kingsley Coman and Eduardo Camavinga were also thrown into the fray and it was just nine minutes later that the fightback began.

Substitute Kolo Muani went down under a challenge from Nicolas Otamendi in the box and Mbappe, like Messi, kept his cool from the penalty spot to reduce the deficit.

Just a minute later, Mbappe struck again to remarkably level the game as Argentina looked shell-shocked.

PSG pair stand tall in extra time

All level at the end of 90 minutes, the two heavyweights of international football battled it out for a further 30 in Qatar.

Messi stroked home for his second and Argentina's third shortly into the second half of the extra time period to seemingly set his side on the way to glory.

But there was to be one final twist as France were awarded another penalty when Gonzalo Montiel handled inside his own box as he blocked Mbappe's shot.

Mbappe completed his hat-trick to edge clear of Messi in the race for the Golden Boot, extending his tally at the World Cup to eight.

Both sides had one final chance to bag a winner but Emiliano Martinez made a crucial save to deny France's Kolo Muani and Lautaro Martinez then headed wide.

Martinez mind games key for Argentina

Aston Villa goalkeeper Martinez has earned a reputation for his antics in penalty shootouts and he was integral once again.

His mind games didn't work against Mbappe as the 23-year-old smashed home the opening spot-kick, before Messi responded when passing home Argentina's first.

Coman saw his effort saved though and Aurelien Tchouameni fired wide after Martinez had rolled the ball away to leave France on the ropes, as Paulo Dybala and Leandro Paredes slotted in to put Argentina 3-1 ahead.

Kolo Muani couldn't afford to miss and he showed composure when hammering it down the middle.

The tie was decided when Sevilla defender Montiel converted for Lionel Scaloni's side, bringing an end to an incredible encounter, and denying France the chance to become just the third nation to win back-to-back World Cups.

Related Articles

bet365 uses cookies

We use cookies to deliver a better and more personalised service. For more information, see our Cookie Policy

New to bet365? Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets Join Now

Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of qualifying bets. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.