France 4-2 Croatia
France 4-2 Croatia - Les Bleus ease past courageous Croatia to World Cup victory in Moscow
15 Jul, 2018 16:53
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© Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters
A rampant France clinched their second World Cup title with a 4-2 victory in the Russia 2018 final over plucky underdogs Croatia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium in a match that saw class and controversy in equal measure.
It was Les Blues who opened the scoring when Antoine Griezmann’s 18th minute free kick to the back post was guided into his own net by a rising Mario Mandzukic, the man who scored the goal to get Croatia into the final match.
Ten minutes later and Croatia were level when the reliable Ivan Perisic slotted home from just inside the box. A Griezmann penalty given through a VAR decision ensured France went into the break ahead.
The second half saw two screamers in quick succession from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe that both cued celebrations from the bench, before a nightmare blunder from Hugo Lloris allowed Mandzukic to redeem his earlier error.
France were to prevail by a scoreline that in the end flattered to deceive, to win their second World Cup trophy in 20 years since their maiden win at their home tournament at France ‘98 and avenging their defeat for their 2006 defeat to Italy. For Croatia, there was to be no fairy tale ending for one of the World Cup’s most unlikely stories.
In the buildup to the game, superstar Will Smith graced the turf with rapper Nicky Jam to ignite the crowd with his official World Cup song ‘Live It Up’, but the performance turned out to be merely a warm-up act for 2002 winner Ronaldinho.
The Brazilian gave a brilliant whirl of the bongo drums to the tune of traditional Russian song ‘Kalinka’, accompanied by a singer in authentic Russian dress and schoolchildren that stole the pre-match show. The it was time for the leading men to take center stage.
For the final time at the 2018 World Cup, the referee’s whistle sounded to begin a match, the 64th of an exhilarating and at times ecstacy-evoking tournament kicked off at the very place it began - its epicenter Luzhniki Stadium.
When the action did get underway, Croatia showed they were a threat down the left from Ivan Perisic, perhaps the side’s most effective player during the World Cup, and full back Ivan Strinic. French defender Samuel Umtiti, the man who scored the goal to fire France into the final, was called into action to clear danger more than once in the first ten minutes.
After a first quarter of an hour of absorbing pressure, France finally began to play, kicked into action by the sonic pace of Kylian Mbappe down the wing, accompanied by the ever-present Antoine Griezmann and it took Marcelo Brozovic to bring down the Atletico Madrid man to stop a French attack around 30 yards out on the right hand side of box.
The player himself rose to drift the ball left-footed toward the back post but before it could reach a French head, Mario Mandzukic also rose to unknowingly nick the ball behind him and into his own net. First blood France, but only by virtue of an own goal.
Le Bleus had only briefly been in the ascendency and were in the lead for an equally ephemeral length of time. A mere ten minutes past before Luka Modric lofted a free kick to the back post which was headed back across goal and found its way to Perisic. The midfielder took one touch to create space before smashing a left-footed strike into the far corner from just inside the box to give Hugo Lloris no chance. The underdogs were all square, much to the delight of their chequered-flag waving fans.
It took just another ten minutes for the game’s and what will surely go down as the tournament’s most controversial moment. Griezmann again it was who delivered a corner from the right for Blaise Matuidi to attack at the near post, but the player simply nodded the ball onto the nearby Perisic, and the appealed for a penalty.
Argentina referee Nestor Pitana consulted VAR and although replays showed it may not have been intentional, pointed to the spot. The Croatian players surrounded the penalty spot to protest and leave Griezmann with what must have felt like an age to take the penalty, clutching the ball under his arm in anticipation of taking a spot kick in front of Croatia main end of fans.
When the dust settled, the 27 made no mistake in sending Subasic the wrong way and the ball into the left hand corner of the net, before wheeling away to practise his usual computer game celebration in front of the silent Croatia fans. With the goal, France entered the break ahead.
© Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Live updates as France and Croatia meet in the World Cup final at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. We’ll be bringing you all the action and reaction as it happens.
15 July 2018
French players tear around the pitch with tricolor flags. Olivier Giroud even braves the end where the Croatian fans are, holding up a hand of apology that is initially met with derision but his applause to the fans is then returned. Nice to see.
We await the presentation ceremony here at Luzhniki. Both sets of players are thanking their respective of fans.
Huge pride for Croatia despite the defeat today. A nation of just 4.1 million dared to dream, and they more than played their part in a thrilling final. They did their nation proud and the fans acknowledge that.
Full-time: France 4-2 Croatia
French players stream onto the pitch, ecstasy for them, agony for Croatia.
It was a thrilling final that saw class and controversy, and providing a fitting end to what has been a wonderful tournament.
France in the end worthy winners, and coach Didier Deschamps becomes only the third man to win football's biggest prize as a player and a manager.
FULL-TIME: FRANCE WIN THE 2018 WORLD CUP!
90 +1 mins: Credit to the Croatian fans at Luzhniki. They are chanting and bouncing as if it's their team with the 4-2 lead and the World Cup in their pocket.
Meanwhile, Vrsaljko goes in the book for scything down Griezmann. France eating up the minutes here.
© Vladimir Pesnya / Sputnik
Additional time 5 minutes at Luzhniki. Russia 2018 is drawing to a close...
89 mins: The Croatian fans are still chanting, urging their team on desperately. They are huffing and puffing, but no sign of setting up a nervy finale yet.
Into the last five minutes of normal time here. French substitute Fekir tests Subasic from range, but the Croatian stopper saves easily.
83 mins: Croatia win a free-kick on the left, which Rakitic and Perisic try to take quickly before the referee calls it back. Rakitic gives him a sarcastic round of applause for the decision. When the free-kick is retaken it's launched into box and Lloris claims it safely. France within touching distance of the World Cup now.
81 mins: Another change for France, Olivier Giroud comes off, still with no World Cup 2018 goal to his name, but a workhorse for the team as ever. Nabil Fekir comes on.
Croatia make a change as well, with Strinic off, Marko Pjaca on.