Messi does it for Argentina

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La Selección defeat France on penalties to win 3rd World Cup crown

Doha: Argentina lifted their 3rd World Cup crown as Emi Martinez saved crucial spot kicks as Lionel Messi finally exorcised the demons of the 2014 World Cup final as La Selección defeated France 4-2 on penalties at the Lusail Stadium on Sunday.

Messi and Mbappe had both scored in Extra Time as France completed another comeback to tie the match 3-3 as the game went to penalties. France had come back from the dead as Mbappe scored twice, once from a penalty and once from open play as the Les Blues held Argentina 2-2 at the end of regulation time. Mbappe became just the fourth player (Zidane, Pele, Vava) to score in two World Cup finals. He is only the second (Vava) to score in consecutive World Cup finals.

The Camavinga-Coman double substitution gave France a chance to press forward. In both goals, it was the subs who made an impact. Coman stole the ball from Messi for the second goal, after Kolo Muani won the penalty to start the comeback.

This is not the first time Argentina have blown a 2-0 lead in a World Cup final. West Germany did it in 1986, only for Burruchaga to score a winner in the 85th minute.

Earlier, the difference in first 25 minutes, as Argentina had taken the lead, was that Messi was on the ball, involved in the game constantly since the kickoff. France, meanwhile, couldn’t get Mbappe involved at all, the credit for which goes De Paul and Molina, who kept a tight leash on the French forward.

Messi now has 13 World Cup goals and is the first player to score in the group stage and every round of the knockout stage in a single edition of the tournament.

For Argentina’s second goal, Messi had a no look through ball assist, a 40-yard dash down the touchline and a brilliant two-touch pass that got the move to launch a breathtaking counter, which Di Maria finished with aplomb after unselfish play by Alexis Mac Allister.

It took 68 minutes for France to take a shot at Emi Martinez’s goal. And they didn’t test him from it either. Although they were beginning to claw their way into the game. Mbappe found his stride moments later, but his shot flashed over the bar. Argentina, meanwhile, seemed happy to hold on to their 2-0 lead.

France were cumbersome and slow, and unexpectedly nervy for defending champions. They were frequently dispossessed in dangerous areas, even the usually perfect Antoine Griezmann. Argentina looked the hungrier of the two sides in the early exchanges.

Earlier, Angel Di Maria started for Argentina as coach Lionel Scaloni opted for a 4-3-3 formation on Sunday. Di Maria, who has not started since the group phase and played only eight minutes in the quarter-final victory against the Netherlands, is on the right flank of attack, with Lionel Messi becoming the player with most appearances at the World Cup finals (26).

France coach Didier Deschamps reverted to his preferred lineup after centre back Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot shook off a virus that had ruled them out of the semi-final against Morocco.

Upamecano started alongside Raphael Varane after the Manchester United defender also recovered from a virus, while Olivier Giroud started up front flanked by Kylian Mbappe on his left and Ousmane Dembele on his right.

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