Lionel Messi-led Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties to win the 2022 World Cup after a 3-3 draw in a thrilling final at the Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar, yesterday.
Argentina’s victory came 36 years after the legendary late Diego Maradona led the country to glory at Mexico 1986. It was Argentina’s third World Cup title after previous victories in 1978 and 1986.
The South Americans raced into a two-goal lead in the first half through their captain Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria before two quick Kylian Mbappe goals saw holders France pull level in spectacular fashion with 10 minutes to regulation time.
Messi put Argentina ahead in extra-time again before Mbappe completed his hat trick from the penalty spot to send the game to a penalty shootout, with Argentina coming up on top.
The result means Messi, who was playing in his record 25th and final World Cup match, achieved a fairytale ending as he lifted the trophy for the first time – the only major honour to have eluded him in his career. In the end, the greatest player of his generation, possibly of all time, bowed out with victory in arguably the greatest World Cup final ever.
It was a perfectly scripted farewell for the 35-year-old Argentine captain, playing in what he said would be his fifth and final World Cup tournament, and his final international game for his country.
Maradona had also inspired that 1986 win, helping Argentina recover after they gave up a 2-0 lead before defeating West Germany 3-2.
Eight years ago, Messi had cut a forlorn figure, finishing on the losing side as Argentina slumped to a 1-0 extra-time loss to Germany at the Maracana Stadium at the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil. Four years later, at Russia 2018, Mbappe-inspired France knocked out Argentina in the second round enroute to winning the cup. This time around, the luck of the game went Argentina’s way as the Albiceleste stopped France from becoming the third country after Brazil and Germany to retain the cup as defending champions.
Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez said his side was destined to win the trophy for the first in 36 years after starring in the nail-biting penalty shootout victory over France in the final yesterday.
Martinez saved from Kingsley Coman in the shootout to help Argentina to a 4-2 win after the thrilling final ended 3-3 in extra-time. Aurelien Tchouameni of France also missed from the spot while all of Argentina’s players scored their kicks.
“It was a very complicated match; they came back to equalise in the game but it was our destiny to suffer,” said the Aston Villa keeper.
“All that I have dreamed of has been achieved. I have no words for it. I was calm during the penalty shootout, and everything went as we wanted. I dedicate this victory to all my family.”
Lionel Messi might have won Man of the Match (MOTM) award but Martinez’s save in the last minute of extra time saved Argentina’s World Cup. Martínez has won every penalty shootout he’s featured in for Argentina.
Meanwhile, Geoff Hurst said he had enjoyed a “good run” after France’s Kylian Mbappe became just the second player after the England great to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.
Hurst had stood alone for 56 years as the only player to score three goals in the showpiece match, with his treble central to England’s 4-2 extra-time win over the then West Germany at Wembley in 1966.
But his feat was equalled yesterday when Mbappe’s treble helped France fight back from 2-0 down and then 3-2 behind at the Lusail Stadium as the final finished level at 3-3 after extra-time before Argentina prevailed in a penalty shoot-out that capped a dramatic match.
“Many congratulations to Mbappe, whatever happens I’ve had a great run!,” Hurst tweeted after Mbappe scored his third goal and second from the penalty spot.
But although the France striker was on target again when the match went to penalties, it was Argentina who won 4-2 in the shoot-out.