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In Focus: Five key talking points from Argentina 3-3 France (aet, 4-2 pens)
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William Furness
Lionel Messi provided an iconic image as he kissed the World Cup after Argentina's shootout success
Lionel Messi provided an iconic image as he kissed the World Cup after Argentina's shootout success

Lionel Messi wrote his name into the World Cup history books as Argentina lifted the 2022 World Cup following a thrilling final. 

After 120 minutes of action failed to separate them from France, Aurelien Tchouameni and Kingsley Coman both missed from the spot before Gonzalo Montiel's penalty sent Argentinians around the globe into pandemonium.

In a wild game in Doha, which is already being referred to as the best final ever, the narrative twisted and turned in dramatic fashion. 

Argentina dominated the first half with Messi and Angel Di Maria both scoring before the break. 

But Kylian Mbappe dragged France back into the game single-handedly with a two-minute brace — a penalty and a rasping volley — in the dying stages to send the game into extra-time. 

Messi tapped home in the 109th minute to give Argentina the advantage yet again over the side that had began the match as champions. 

Mbappe, however, was not done and the Paris Saint-Germain superstar levelled matters once again with a second penalty to complete an iconic hat-trick. 

Penalties decide crazy game 

Emiliano Martinez saved from Kingsley Coman during the shootout
Emiliano Martinez saved from Kingsley Coman during the shootout

With France, who had been hit by illness in the build-up, showing resilience to keep battling back, storylines galore emerged from a jaw-dropping contest. 

And it seemed fitting that the excitement continued all the way to penalties, with skipper Messi and spot-kick saver extraordinaire Emiliano Martinez setting the tone for what would soon become wild celebrations.

The 35-year-old talisman dispatched his effort with a ridiculously calm finish, while Aston Villa's stopper combined his usual mind games with superb saves to help his nation over the line.

Having already dispatched the Netherlands in similar fashion at the quarter-final stage, the Argentines once again showed their bottle in football's most high-pressure situation.

Deschamps to the rescue

There is no escaping the absolute disaster of a performance it was for France in the first half. 

They did not have a single shot in the opening 45 minutes, failing to conjure up even a spell of possession that applied any pressure to the Argentina backline. 

Boss Didier Deschamps could not watch any more and made two bold subs in the 40th minute.

Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele were both hooked in favour of Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram.

It was a change that stunned many but ultimately turned the game on its head, with Thuram providing a much-needed spark to support Mbappe's flair. 

Mbappe delivers 

All eyes were on Mbappe as Les Bleus looked to retain the famous gold trophy but the youngster was thwarted by the tactical excellence of Lionel Scaloni during the first half.

Every time the 23-year-old attacker was on the ball, he was immediately smothered by a sea of light blue and white. 

But when it appeared the World Cup was destined for South America, he dragged France back into the game in phenomenal fashion. 

Mbappe slotted home his first penalty to halve the deficit and then provided a true moment of magic to make it 2-2.

He watched the ball loop over his head before thumping it home — an incredible moment from an incredible player.

Then, when France appeared dead and buried yet again in extra-time, he kept his cool to score another spot-kick and send the game to penalties. 

Mbappe is only the second player to bag a hat-trick in a World Cup final, after England hero Sir Geoff Hurst in 1966, and he can count himself incredibly unlucky not to have been on the winning side. 

The last dance

In the 23rd minute, a nation fell silent as Argentina's little genius stepped forward to break the deadlock. 

The 12 yards that separated Messi and Hugo Lloris felt like a mile. The pressure, the lights and the cameras were all fixed upon one man.

It was an incredible moment for the 35-year-old icon, who raced away in joyous celebration to hug and embrace his team-mates after finding the back of the net.

Messi was then in the right place at the right time to net his second in extra-time as he did everything in his power to win the trophy he has so long craved. 

Di Maria change

Angel Di Maria was a key man for Argentina before he was subbed
Angel Di Maria was a key man for Argentina before he was subbed

Positioned on the left-hand side, Angel Di Maria was brilliant in the final third.

He skipped past Jules Kounde to win the spot-kick that Messi tucked away to break the deadlock.   

And 13 minutes later, after a brilliant move by Argentina, the veteran finished calmly to double his nation's advantage. 

However, in the 64th minute, Scaloni took the 34-year-old former Manchester United man off and replaced him with Marcos Acuna as he switched to a back five. 

It proved to be a costly mistake, however, with France stepping up the pressure and netting twice. 

But that one tactical mishap was soon forgotten after Argentina went on to clinch a nail-biting shootout. 


ArgentinaFranceWorld CupLionel Messi
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