The long wait of 36 years for a third FIFA World Cup title is finally over for Argentina after they defeated 2018 champions France in the finals of the FIFA World Cup 2022. It was a fairytale ending for Lionel Messi, who played his last World Cup match in an Albiceleste jersey and lifted Argentina's third title in the Lusail Stadium after guiding them to victory in the finals.
But the match was nothing short of nerve-wracking for both teams and the millions of viewers where the fixture saw goals galore until the end of extra time with no winner separated.
Just like the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the winner of the 2022 edition in Qatar was also decided ultimately via penalty shootout with Argentina coming on top and defeating Les Bleus to lift football's most coveted title.
Here's how Argentina fared in the final to defeat France and win the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
The Messi-Di María Show In First-Half
It was the perfect start for Argentina, who dominated the possession of the ball and kept on creating chance after chance, aiming for the first breakthrough. The continuous pressure on the French defence line ultimately paid off after Ángel Di María was fouled by Ousmane Dembélé in the French penalty box.
Polish referee Szymon Marciniak was quick to point towards the spot and award a penalty kick to Argentina in the 22nd minute. Captain Lionel Messi seized the golden opportunity and slotted the ball into the back of the net past France's goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris, making it 1-0 for Argentina.
But it was just the beginning of the Argentine attack as they continued to create more chances, making the French defence more vulnerable to another goal. It ultimately paid off for Argentina in the 36th minute after Brighton midfielder Alexis Mac Allister passed the ball to Ángel Di María, who comfortably scored past Lloris and doubled Argentina's lead.
The Argentines seemed to be in a dominating position as the French players were yet to touch the ball in Argentina's penalty box. Argentina ended the first half with a 2-0 lead.
The French Comeback By Kylian Mbappe
As the second half commenced, Argentina continued to assert their dominance in possession and attacking chances against France. With 80 minutes gone, France were still trailing and the match seemed to head towards Argentina's favour.
But in the 80th minute, things took a u-turn after Nicolas Otamendi committed a foul on France's Randal Kolo Muani, which led to the referee Marciniak pointing towards the spot as he awarded a penalty to France.
Up stepped Kylian Mbappé, who took the penalty kick and fired the ball towards the bottom left corner past the Argentine keeper Emiliano Martínez to provide a vital breakthrough for France and scored their first goal of the evening.
Argentina resumed from the centre spot where Lionel Messi was quickly dispossessed by Kingsley Coman, who passed the ball to Marcus Thuram. Thuram quickly passed the ball back to Mbappé, who fired the volley across the goal in the bottom corner to equalise for France in style.
Mbappé scored the two goals in 97 seconds to make it 2-2 for France and help Les Bleus to stay alive in the match. It was a game-changer for the 2018 champions as Mbappé's brace helped them to equalise just before the end of 90 minutes.
Extra Time Turnaround
With the two late goals from Mbappé, no winner could be separated after the end of the 90 minutes with the scoreline standing at 2-2. The match moved into extra time to decide on a winner.
The first half of the extra stoppage time ended on a goalless note with both teams staring towards penalty shootouts as the only way to decide the winner.
In the second half of the extra time, Lionel Messi stepped up once again and scored a decisive goal to make it 3-2 for Argentina in the 108th minute. The VAR checked for offside but confirmed that Messi's goal was valid.
It was a frantic blow to France as they were once again trailing with 12 minutes to go. Argentina continued to defend their lead but the match took another turn around. Gonzalo Montiel was trying to block Mbappé's shot and the ball hit his arm. The referee pointed straight to the spot for a third time, this time in favour of France yet again.
France got the opportunity to equalise in the 118th minute. Kylian Mbappé ensured the same for Les Bleus after scoring past Emiliano Martínez from the penalty spot once again for France in the nick of time, making it 3-3 for Les Bleus.
With the goal, Kylian Mbappé completed a sensational World Cup final hattrick that helped France make the comeback against Argentina once again just minutes before the end of extra stoppage time. He also became the first player since Geoff Hurst of England in 1966 to score a hattrick in a World Cup final.
Mbappé's third goal was a sigh of relief for France as it kept them alive in the match once again. The scoreline stood at 3-3 after extra stoppage time and no winner could be decided after 120 minutes of football.
The Penalty Shootout
It all came down to the penalty kicks to decide the winner of the FIFA World Cup 2022. Lionel Messi won the coin toss and opted for the side where the penalty shootout will take place. France had the opportunity to take the first shot.
Kylian Mbappé scored comfortably past Emiliano Martínez to provide a 1-0 lead to France in the penalty shootout. For Argentina, it was captain Lionel Messi who took the first penalty kick. Messi was successful in scoring from the spot and making it 1-1 for Argentina.
Kingsley Coman was the next penalty-taker for France. But this time, it was Martínez who made the decisive save and stopped Coman's shot from the spot, providing an advantage to Argentina. Paulo Dybala stepped up to take the next penalty for Argentina where the AS Roma forward successfully scored past Hugo Lloris to make it 2-1 for the Albiceleste.
Aurélien Tchouaméni took the third penalty kick for France, but his shot was off-target. France missed out on another penalty. Leandro Paredes seized the opportunity provided by Tchouaméni's miss and made it 3-1 for Argentina.
Paredes' goal also meant that France had zero margins of error left. Therefore, if Argentine keeper Martínez saved/blocked the next French penalty kick, it was over for France. But Randol Kolo Muani scored his penalty and made it 3-2 for France.
But the French still had the disadvantage after missing from the spot twice. Captain Hugo Lloris had to make the save or hope that the next penalty-taker for Argentina will miss from the spot like Tchouaméni.
Gonzalo Montiel took the deciding penalty kick and slotted the ball into the back of the net, confirming Argentina's 4-2 victory in the penalty shootout against France to win the FIFA World Cup 2022. The wait was finally over for Lionel Messi, who received the much-awaited FIFA World Cup and became the third Argentine captain after Mario Kempes in 1978 and the late Diego Maradona in 1986 to lift the trophy for Argentina.
Kylian Mbappé's hattrick saw him clear of Lionel Messi in the goalscoring chart and helped him win the Golden Boot for being the tournament's highest goalscorer with eight goals.
Lionel Messi ended the FIFA World Cup 2022 campaign as the winning captain, along with being the recipient of the Golden Ball award, conferred to the best player of the tournament.
He also became the first player in FIFA World Cup history to win the Golden Ball twice. He won his first Golden Ball award in 2014 for guiding Argentina to the finals of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil where Argentina lost to Germany 1-0 in extra time.
Argentina's Emiliano Martínez won the Golden Glove award for being the best goalkeeper of the tournament. He maintained three clean sheets and was decisive in Argentina's penalty shootout victories against the Netherlands in the quarter-finals and eventually France in the finals.
The Best Young Player Award conferred to the best under-21 player of the tournament was won by Argentina's Enzo Fernandez.
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