France ended Croatia’s fantasy of a title victory with a 4-2 triumph and won the World Cup for the second time on Sunday in one of the most engaging and nerve-racking finals.
At halftime, France drove 2-1 after an Antoine Griezmann VAR penalty and a Mario Mandzukic self-goal with Ivan Perisic quickly bringing first-time finalists Croatia level.
Swift strikes by Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba halfway to the second half put France back in the game, however, Mandzukic was offered a goal by Hugo Lloris, the French keeper to set up a nail-biting last 20 minutes.
France, nevertheless, withstood an energetic Croatia onslaught to lift the trophy for the second time, following their win on home soil in 1998, and assure there was no replay of 2016 when they were beaten in the European Championship final in Paris by Portugal.
After Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil’s Mario Zagallo, Didier Deschamps, the captain of the 1998 French side became the third man to win the World Cup as both player and coach.
It was the most astounding scoring final since England thrashed West Germany 4-2 after additional time in 1966 and the most in the regular time since Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 60 years back.
Croatia had begun brimming with vitality yet fell behind when Mandzukic, who scored the additional time winner against England in the semi-final, turned into the first man to score a self-goal in a World Cup last when a Griezmann free kick slid in off his head in the eighteenth minute. It was the twelfth self-goal of the competition.
That implied it was the fourth progressive knockout diversion that Croatia had yielded first, however, Perisic, who got the equalizer against England, was close by again to level the scores 10 minutes later, crushing in a low shot after Sime Vrsaljko had headed Luka Modric’s free-kick over the crate.
Perisic fluttered an arm at a corner and, Argentine referee Nestor Pitana granted the 28th penalty of the competition, after a VAR review, which Griezmann stroked home in the 38th minute for his fourth goal of Russia 2018.
Yet France’s defense, so noteworthy all competition, held and they went 3-1 up on the hour as Griezmann and Mbappe joined to set up Pogba on the edge of the container. His right-footed shot was blocked yet he coolly arched the rebound in with his left.
After three progressive extra-time knockout diversions, the odds of another Croatian rebound appeared to be slight yet they looked dead and covered six minutes later.
A dreadful botch by Lloris resuscitated Croatia, as the French keeper attempted to spill around Mandzukic just for the striker to tap the ball straight into an unguarded net.
Croatia kept on squeezing, however, their vitality was sapped and France securely waited for the triumph.