A salivating affair that you could not take your eyes off for one second, the 2022 World Cup final delivered in every aspect of the game, showing why the sport is the most watched on the planet.
The buildup to this World Cup final saw both sides looking to make earth-shattering history in their own respects.
France being fingertips away from an illustrious back-to-back World Cup win, which would put them as only the third side in history to embark on such an achievement.
Meanwhile, Argentina had a story of its own, with the memory of football icon Diego Maradonna looming large over the all-time-great, Lionel Messi. A world cup has been expected from the magic maestro ever since his rise to prominence at Barcelona, being lauded as the best to ever grace the sport from a young age yet ‘failing‘ with Argentina.
Half-Time: Argentina 2-0 France
Argentina started off the match aggressively and playing with a purpose, trying to put the French under pressure early and dominate the affair.
The pressure paid off handsomely, as surprise start Angel Di Maria hugged the touchline in the first half, causing French right-back Jules Kounde issues, as he was being stretched wide.
Ousmane Dembele failed to cover his full-back effectively, as he was beaten by Di Maria too easily on the flank, giving away a penalty as he brought down Di Maria in the box. A spot kick that Lionel Messi stepped up to take, keeping his cool and guiding it into the opposite corner of Hugo Lloris, providing Argentina with an early lead.
Argentina continued to dominate, as the French were uninspiring at best, failing to deal with the energy and pace that Argentina deployed.
And again, Argentina carved apart the French defence with ease, as Messi this time was the architect behind a simply sensational Argentinian goal.Embed from Getty Images
A smart piece of interplay saw Alex Mac Allister slip in behind a disorganised French defence, playing an inch-perfect pass for Di Maria at the back post to fire past Lloris into France’s net, lighting up the Arabian night sky in a dream scenario in what seemed to be destiny.
Being 2-0 down, Didier Deschamps made a brave move to remove Dembele and Olivier Giroud from the pitch towards the end of the first half, replacing them with Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani.
Full-Time: Argentina 2-2 France
Once again, Argentina started the second half off the better of the two sides, not allowing the French time on the ball, nullifying all of their attacking threats.
The game seemed to be drifting towards its natural conclusion before a moment of madness from Nicolas Otamendi saw him bring down Kolo Muani inside the area, giving the French a lifeline in the 79th minute.
A lifeline that Kylian Mbappe dispatched past Emiliano Martinez, offering the French a prayer to level the scores.Embed from Getty Images
A prayer that was well and truly answered by Mbappe, as his quick one-two with Thurman bamboozled Nahuel Molina, leaving space for Mbappe to run into and place a thunderous volley past Martinez’s fingertips, leveling the score and sending shockwaves rippling through the planet.
France continued to barrage the Argentinian defence, however, the Argentinians held on to the full-time whistle, being thankful to be given an opportunity to regroup.
Extra-Time: Argentina 3-3 France
Argentina managed to respond in the first half of extra time, as they ended France’s dominance in the match, being the better of the sides throughout the first half of extra time.
But it took till the second half for the fire to be lit for both sides, as they traded blows like two heavyweight boxers in a continuation of attacks against one another.
Argentina struck first through Messi, as he tapped in a rebound from Lautaro Martinez’s strike on goal, scoring what was thought to be the winning goal of the tournament.
However, there was still another twist in the tale, due to Leandro Paredes blocking a shot with his arms, leaving the referee no choice but to point at the spot again. With all the pressure on his shoulders, Mbappe stepped up and secured his hat trick, blasting the ball into the far corner once again leveling the scores for his side.
One last golden chance presented itself for France, as in the dying moments of extra time, Kolo Muani was played through on goal, where Martinez stood up strong and produced a fantastic save, denying France of the opportunity to score with the last kick of the game.
Penalties: Argentina 4-2 France
The shootout began with Mbappe slotting the ball past Martinez to put the French in the early ascendancy, however, Messi managed to evade Lloris with his strike, equalling the penalty score.
But a missed penalty from Kingsley Coman spelled trouble for France, as Paulo Dybala successfully dispatched his to put Argentina in the lead.
Martinez then kicked the ball away to delay Aurelien Tchouameni’s penalty, subsequently making him miss and putting the French in serious trouble heading into Argentina’s next penalty. A penalty that was neatly tucked away by Paredes, giving the French a mountain to climb.
Kolo Muani however blasted his penalty away in convincing fashion, but a moment of joy that was very shortly lived, as Gonzalo Montiel secured the victory for Argentina, sending the stadium and an entire nation into pandemonium.Embed from Getty Images
Being a moment that many signified as the crowning of the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi’s long wait to lift the World Cup came to its conclusion, lifting the trophy in his last World cup ever while being Argentina’s man of the match in every knockout stage game.
A grueling moment for France and Kylian Mbappe, but the tournament’s golden boot winner is only 23 years old and will return in 2026 for the chance to claim his second World Cup title.
In the end, Argentina are deserving winners of the 2022 World Cup, overcoming a resilient French side containing a world superstar in one of the best games of all time. A historic moment that will live on in the memories of many for years to come, a moment that has touched the hearts of football fans across the globe, Lionel Messi has won the World Cup.