Argentina edge France on penalties in epic World Cup Final


Argentina 3-3 France AET (Argentina win 4-2 on penalties)

Lionel Messi is celebrating a dream, career-defining World Cup triumph as Argentina won the most dramatic final in history on penalties after Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick had kept holders France alive in a contest that finished 3-3 after extra-time.

After 63 matches and a thrilling month of action, Sunday’s breathless finale was the wildest conclusion anyone could have imagined to the first finals held in the Middle East and Arab world.

Messi came to Qatar looking to crown a glittering career by leading Argentina to a third World Cup triumph and managed just that after a staggering 3-3 draw ending in a 4-2 shootout victory against France.

Emiliano Martinez denied Kingsley Coman before Aurelien Tchouameni failed with his effort, with Gonzalo Montiel striking the decider to spark wild celebrations at Lusail Stadium.

Messi converted his effort in the shootout having opened the scoring with a first-half penalty that was quickly complemented by Angel Di Maria’s fine goal against meek France, only for Mbappe to spark them to life.

Messi celebrates after opening the scoring.

The 23-year-old scored twice in 97 seconds to take match beyond 90 minutes and became the second player to score a final hat-trick when cancelling out what had looked to be an extra-time winner by Argentina’s captain.

But this was Messi’s final. This was Messi’s tournament – one that ended with him lifting the trophy aloft at the same ground where they suffered a humiliating loss to Saudi Arabia just 26 days ago.

The 35-year-old’s fifth and final appearance at this stage ended in glory as he captained them to their first World Cup triumph since the late, great Diego Maradona did so in 1986.

It was a blockbuster ending to one of the most controversial World Cups in history, with Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and criminalisation of same-sex relationships among the key issues.

Mbappe celebrates after bring France level.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino labelled it the best ever, but Human Rights Watch’s Minky Worden says it will be remembered “as the most expensive sporting event ever – and the most deadly”.

The organisers have largely kept quiet throughout a tournament that ended with a star-studded crowd joining the Argentina fans that have turned Qatar sky blue over the last month.

Their team flew out of the blocks in Lusail and looked up for the fight against jittery France, whose poor start was punished midway through the first half.

Di Maria brilliantly beat Ousmane Dembele and hit the deck as the France forward attempted to halt him leading referee Szymon Marciniak to point to the spot.

Emiliano Martinez denies Kingsley Coman.

Messi stepped up and fired into the bottom right-hand corner as Hugo Lloris went the wrong way and things got worse for France in the 36th minute.

Alexis Mac Allister played onto Messi and darted forwards. The skipper sent a beautiful flick to Julian Alvarez, who put the Brighton midfielder through to send a low first-time cross to the far post for Di Maria to score.

Didier Deschamps responded by bringing on Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani. Dembele and a fuming Olivier Giroud made way as France failed to muster a first half shot.

The match looked over as Argentina continue on top. Rodrigo De Paul saw a volleyed effort saved and Lloris denied Alvarez, with France taking until the 68th minute to register any shot.

Messi kisses the trophy he has worked so hard to lift.

The final appeared to be petering out, only for Nicolas Otamendi’s overzealous defending to give France a chance from the spot.

Marciniak awarded a penalty for the foul on Kolo Muani and Mbappe beat Martinez with an 80th-minute goal that sparked an astonishing turnaround.

Coman dispossessed Messi at the start of a move than ended with 23-year-old meeting a return ball from Kolo Muani with a fizzing low strike past Martinez. An amazing hit, a remarkable moment.

Thuram was booked for a dive in the box as France sought a late winner, with Mbappe trying his best and Messi seeing a shot stopped before the drama of extra-time and penalties.

Man of the match: Lionel Messi (Argentina)



  • Marcos Acuna replaces Angel Di Maria 64 mins
  • Gonzalo Montiel replaces Nahuel Molina 91 mins
  • Leandro Paredes replaces Rodrigo De Paul 102 mins
  • Lautaro Martinez replaces Julian Alvarez 102 mins
  • German Pezzella replaces Alexis Mac Allister 116 mins
  • Paulo Dybala replaces Nicolas Tagliafico 120′ mins


  • Randal Kolo Muani replaces Ousmane Dembele 41 mins
  • Marcus Thuram replaces Olivier Giroud 41 mins
  • Kingsley Coman replaces Antoine Griezmann 71 mins
  • Eduardo Camavinga replaces Theo Hernandez 71 mins
  • Youssouf Fofana replaces Adrien Rabiot 96 mins
  • Ibrahima Konate replaces Raphael Varane 113 mins
  • Axel Disasi replaces Jules Kounde 120′ mins

Yellow cards:

Argentina – Enzo Fernandez, Marcos Acuna, Leando Parades, Gonzalo Montiel, Emiliano Martínez

France – Adrien Rabiot, Marcus Thuram, Olivier Giroud

Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland)

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