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2022 FIFA World Cup Final Results: Argentina & Messi Are Crowned Kings Of World Football

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2022 FIFA World Cup Final Results: Argentina & Messi Are Crowned Kings Of World Football

Argentina and France played out a final for the ages as the FIFA World Cup was won for the third time by the South American nation on Sunday.

Who said this might be a cagey affair? The estimated global audience of over one billion who tuned in to catch the action from Lusail Iconic Stadium were treated to perhaps the best-ever World Cup final.

Argentina had built a commanding 2-0 lead before the half-time interval. France shook the cobwebs off around the 70th minute and levelled the match with two quick-fire goals in the closing ten minutes of regulation time. To extra-time we went. The additional 30-minute period produced more drama as Argentina again hit the front and were tantalizingly close to the trophy for the second time. Another late French score saw the teams tied at 3-3. A penalty shootout would decide the final for the third time since the tournament began.

2022 WORLD CUP FINAL MATCH REPORT

A long time before that point was reached, Argentina and France took to the field at Qatar's biggest stadium; both were looking to deliver the trophy to their football-hungry nations for the third time.

France lined up in their customary 4-2-3-1 formation, with Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot both returning to the starting line-up after missing the semi-final through illness. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni made one change. It resulted in a switch of formation. Angel Di Maria replaced Leandro Parades – their tactical system switched from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3.

After the first half, the decision to include Di Maria looked like an inspired one. The veteran attacker was the best player in the park during the opening 45 minutes.

Di Maria was involved in the first huge moment of the match when he was fouled inside the penalty area by Ousmane Dembele after 22 minutes. Polish referee Szymon Marciniak had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Lionel Messi stepped up and sent French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris the wrong way from 12 yards.

Argentina doubled their lead in the 36th minute with a goal of supreme quality. It epitomised their pressing and counter-attacking abilities perfectly. The ball was won deep inside their own half, and some lovely passing between Messi, Julian Alvarez, and Alexis MacAllister resulted in Alvarez playing a beautiful ball into space for MacAllister to chase. Chase it he did, before playing a perfect ball across for Di Maria, who gratefully netted at the back post.

Argentina was in control. It was a lead they did not look like they were losing. Despite reacting to falling 2-0 behind by making two first-half substitutions, French manager Didier Deschamps didn't see anything resembling France's best until he made further changes in the 71st minute.

The introduction of Kingsley Coman seemed to give France a bit of a spark and brought out the best in fellow replacements Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram.

Argentina's stroll to the finish line was interrupted when Nicolas Otamendi dragged Kolo Muani down in the box. The referee pointed to the spot for the second time on the day. Up stepped Kylian Mbappe. The prolific French forward belted his kick beyond the dive of Emiliano Martinez. It had to be that well-struck to beat Argentina's keeper.

France had life. About one minute later, they were on level terms. Coman won the ball in midfield and passed it to Rabiot, who chipped it into Mbappe's path. France was purring now. Mbappe headed the ball into Thuram's path. Thuram immediately lofted it back into Mbappe, who had moved into the penalty area. France's number 10 then elegantly volleyed the ball low across Martinez into the far bottom corner. It was a goal of exquisite beauty. Technically perfect.

Argentina was hanging on now. With the clock ticking down to the end of ninety minutes, Mbappe was like a man possessed. Martinez turned away one more effort from Mbappe, and extra time was upon us. The momentum swung back to Argentina with only 12 minutes remaining. After some nice build-up play between Lautaro Martinez and Messi, Lloris denied Martinez, only to see Messi force the rebound over the line. Argentina had a 3-2 lead. Surely they would hold on this time.

But again, there was more in this script. With two minutes of extra time remaining, Mbappe tried his luck with a curling shot from around the edge of the penalty area. Argentina substitute Gonzalo Montiel blocked the shot with an outstretched arm. For the third time in the match, a penalty kick was awarded. Once again, Mbappe stepped up. This time he sent Martinez the wrong way. The score was level at 3-3. Mbappe had helped himself to a World Cup final hat trick and restored hope to all of France. Moments later, the final whistle told the world that penalty kicks would decide the outcome of this thriller.

2022 WORLD CUP FINAL PENALTY SHOOTOUT INS AND OUTS

When faced with a penalty shootout, the advice to whichever captain wins the coin toss is to elect to take first. That way, assuming you score, the pressure is always on the opponent. That's the theory, but the reality in these situations is different. The pressure is enormous, and the mental strain put on the kickers is significant.

Mbappe took first for France and scored. Messi followed suit for Argentina. These two players were expected to score – how would the rest handle things?

Next up for France was Coman. As so often happens, someone who has played well in the game is unsuccessful from the spot. Coman's kick was on target, but unfortunately for him, it was saved by Argentina's giant goalkeeper Martinez. Paulo Dybala then stepped up to put some daylight between the teams in the shootout.

France was under pressure to hang on to the coattails of their opponents. The pressure was too much for Aurelian Tchouameni. He went for the bottom corner; his radar let him down as the ball shaved the outside of the post on its way past. Argentinian substitute Leandro Paredes belted his spot kick home to put Argentina within touching distance of the World Cup again.

Kolo Muani scored to keep France in contention, but Argentina only needed one more successful penalty. Montiel, he of the late handball incident, had the chance to score the clinching penalty. He confidently sent Lloris the wrong way. For the first time since Diego Maradona led La Albiceleste to victory in 1986, Argentina is once again the best international football team on the planet.

It was fitting that Messi, often unfavourably compared to El Diego in his homeland for not winning the ultimate prize, was the man who carried this team to glory and hoisted the famous trophy skywards at the end of the presentation ceremony.

QUOTING THE PROTAGONISTS

After a long tournament and the strength-sapping final, emotions are always running high. Here are some of the quotes reported by Reuters after the match.

France central defender Raphael Varane: “We are very disappointed, of course. For an hour, we were not in the game. We could have won too. I'm very proud of this group and of being French. We keep our heads high. We came back in this game when it was complicated.”

France goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris: “It was like a boxing match; we went blow for blow. The Argentines got off to a great start, being aggressive, using all facets of the game. We were a bit reactionary. We're not going to make excuses; we gave everything. You have to congratulate the guys because we didn't give up.”

Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez: “It was a game where we suffered. Two crappy shots and France levelled. They give them another penalty, they scored. Thank God later I did my thing, what I dreamed of.”

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni: “I can't believe that we have suffered so much in a perfect game. Unbelievable, but this team responds to everything. I am proud of the work they did. It is an exciting group. The blows we received today make you emotional. I want to tell people to enjoy. It's a historic moment for our country.”

2022 WORLD CUP FINAL ODDS AND ENDS

Along with lifting the FIFA World Cup Trophy, Lionel Messi was also awarded the Golden Ball. This is the prize given to the footballer voted the best at the tournament by a panel of journalists. Kylian Mbappe's final hat trick earned him the Golden Boot. The Qatar 2022 top scorer plundered eight goals during the competition. Messi was runner-up in the goal charts with seven.

An appropriately dramatic final brought the curtain down on Qatar 2022. The location and timing weren't to everyone's liking, but the football on the field provided thrilling entertainment.

In June and July of 2026, the USA, Canada, and Mexico will host the 23rd edition of the men's World Cup. FIFA is expanding the competition from 32 teams to 48 – that's a mistake. It's also a story for another time.

A boxing fan since his teenage years, Morrison began writing about the sport in July 2016. He appreciates all styles of boxing and has nothing but respect for those who get in the ring for our entertainment. Morrison is from Scotland and can be found on Twitter @Morrie1981.