Argentina defeated France 4-2 in a thrilling game on Sunday, which saw a penalty shoot-out that ended what was arguably the greatest World Cup final of them all.
Lionel Messi crowned his glittering career with victory in the World Cup as his team triumphed 4-2 on penalties, after Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick ensured the game ended level following extra time.
Messi scored two goals and then another in a shootout as Argentina beat France to claim a third World Cup title.
“Let’s go, Argentina!” Messi roared into a microphone on the field in the post-match celebrations.
Now there’s no debate. Messi is definitively in the pantheon of soccer’s greatest-ever players, alongside Pelé – a record three-time World Cup champion from Brazil – and Diego Maradona, the late Argentina great with whom Messi was so often compared.
Messi achieved what Maradona did in 1986 and dominated a World Cup for Argentina.
Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez said it was “destiny” to win.
Martinez, 30, 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.
“All that I have dreamed of has been achieved. I have no words for it. I was calm during the penalty shoot-out, and everything went as we wanted,” he said. “I dedicate this victory to all my family.”
Europe’s run of four straight World Cup winners came to an end. The last South American champion was Brazil, and that was also in Asia – when Japan and South Korea hosted the tournament in 2002.
Argentina won its previous World Cup titles in 1978 and 1986.
Sunday’s game was quite a finale for a unique World Cup – the first to be played in the Middle East and the Arab world.
For FIFA and the Qatari organisers, a final between two major football teams represented a perfect way to end a tournament dubbed as the “best world cup” by the FIFA president.