Goals – six of them, and then six more on penalties. Heartbreaks – aplenty. Jubilation – plethora of it. Tears of pure joy, and cries of excruciating agony. From the broadest of smiles to the most poignant looks of anguish.
This is what the FIFA World Cup 2022 final was all about – a tale of two extremes.
Argentina and France brought their very best to the fore at the final hurdle, but as football gods would have it, only one team’s ‘best’ was worthy enough of being crowned world champions, and here in Qatar, it was the team that wears white and blue, and for whom, the wizard known as Lionel Messi plays for.
Argentina dominated the match right from the first second, with France struggling to find any sort of a rhythm.
Angel Di Maria had an excellent chance in the 17th minute, but ended up blasting his shot into the upper tier of the ground. Three minutes later, France had their first opportunity from an Antoine Griezmann cross, but it came to nothing.
After incessant pressure, the first goal eventually arrived in the 23rd minute, courtesy of a penalty.
Ousmane Dembele brought Angel Di Maria inside the box, and from 12 yards out, Lionel Messi made no mistakes in opening the scoring. Having found the opener, La Albiceleste added another to their tally via Di Marina in the 36th minute.
A swift counterattack saw Messi laying a pass for Alexis Mac Allister. The Brighton & Hove Albion attacker did well to show his selfless trait by finding Di Maria with a pass instead of going for glory himself, and with only goalkeeper Hugo Lloris to beat, the veteran made the scoreline 2-0.
France Restored Parity Twice
France were dormant for much of the second half. Despite having a two-goal cushion, Argentina did all they could to add a third. Julian Alvarez had his attempt spectacularly saved by Hugo Lloris in the 59th minute, but Di Maria missed a chance only a couple of minutes later.
However, against the run of play, sprung to life when Nicolas Otamendi conceded a penalty in the 80th minute. Mbappe reduced the deficit from the spot, and then wiped it off completely when he scored his second only a minute later to take the game to extra time.
While the first half of extra time did not produce goals, While the first half of extra time did not produce goals, but both teams had chances. Marcos Acuna dragged his shot wide, while substitute Lautaro Martinez’s shot was brilliantly blocked by a diving Dayot Upamecano.
Argentina reclaimed their lead in the 109th minute, with Messi proving to be the messiah yet again. Lloris saved Martinez’s powerful attempt, but the rebound fell to Messi who somehow managed to tap it in using his thigh. While Jules Kounde did clear the ball, it was only after it had crossed the line.
But for the second time in the match, France restored parity. Leandro Paredes handled the ball to award France their second penalty of the match, and Kylian Mbappe was supremely composed this time around as well.
Argentina went from delirium to desolation twice, but it was delirium once again when the game boiled down to penalties. Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni missed their chances while all of Argentina’s four scorers converted from the spot to give their team a 4-2 win.
With this win, Argentina are now three-time champions of the world, having previously attained this feat in 1978 and 1986.