4-2! France Beat Croatia, Are FIFA World Cup Champions

by Samuel Abasi Posted on July 15th, 2018

France are  FIFA World Cup Champions after beating Croatia 4-2 in the final on Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. France are the first team to score four goals in a World Cup Final since Brazil in 1970.

Mandzukic started the scoring by netting an own goal for France. Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba also scored for France. Ivan Perisic netted Croatia’s first goal.

Croatia leveled the score at 1-1 on a goal from Ivan Perisic in the 28th minute. Domagoj Vida got the ball at a free kick and passed it back to Perisic on the edge of the area. The winger controlled the ball with his right foot and used his left to fire it past French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. It’s the third goal in seven games for Perisic and the first goal France has conceded since its 4-3 win over Argentina in the round of 16.

France led 2-1 at halftime courtesy of the first own-goal and the first video-reviewed penalty in a World Cup final. That made it the highest-scoring first half since 1974, when West Germany led the Netherlands 2-1 – also the final score then.

Antoine Griezmann gave France a 2-1 lead over Croatia with a penalty after the first call made using a video review in a World Cup final. Griezmann hit the ball hard and left as Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subasic jumped the other way in the 38th minute. The spot-kick was given after the ball bounced off the arm of Croatia’s Ivan Perisic at a corner before hitting his leg and going out of play. Perisic had scored for Croatia to level the game at 1-1 in the 28th minute.

There was a break of about 90 seconds as referee Nestor Pitana discussed the call with his video assistants and reviewed the footage.

The second half saw two screamers in quick succession from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe that both cued celebrations from the bench, before a nightmare blunder from Hugo Lloris allowed Mandzukic to redeem his earlier error.

Croatia semifinal hero Mario Mandzukic scored in the 69th minute to cut the France lead in half.

Paul Pogba gave France a 3-1 lead. Pogba made a lengthy diagonal, cross-field pass to Mbappe, who sped up the right flank. He dribbled around Strinic and crossed to Griezmann, who took two touches and cut the ball back to Pogba at the penalty arc. Pogba’s initial shot was blocked by Lovren, and Pogba sent in the rebound for his first goal of the tournament.

Kylian Mbappe scored France’s fourth goal in the game in the 65th minute just after Paul Pogba’s scored the team’s third goal in the 59th minute, kicking the ball two times after a perfect pass from Griezmann. Midfielder Lucas Hernandez dribbled down the left flank on the play, before he fired a pass to Mbappe down the middle of the field. The Paris Saint Germain star dribbled to his right, forcing French defender Benjamin Pavard to his left. Mbappe took advantage of Pavard’s overcommitment by sticking his left foot in the ground and using his right boot to rip a shot begin the defender. The 25-yard rip beat Croatia’s Danijel Subasic into the near post netting. Mbappe became the second teenager to have scored a goal in a World Cup Final. The first was Pele.

Mario Mandzukic scored a perfect goal in the 69th minute, making the score 4-2.

France withstood a spirited Croatia assault to lift the trophy for the second time, following their success on home soil 20 years ago, and ensure there was no repeat of two years ago when they were beaten in the European Championship final by Portugal in Paris.

It was the highest-scoring final since England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra-time in 1966 and the highest in normal time since Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 60 years ago. There was just one goalless draw at the 2018 World Cup (France vs Denmark), the fewest at any World Cup tournament since 1954, when there were none.

The victory means that Didier Deschamps, captain of the 1998 side, becomes the third man to win the World Cup as player and coach after Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer.

Belgium beat England 2-0 to win the bronze medal and it’s best-ever World Cup finish on Saturday July 14 at St. Petersburg Stadium in St. Petersburg. Belgium’s previous best was finishing fourth at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico.

“Congratulations to France, who played extraordinary soccer, on winning the 2018 World Cup. Additionally, congratulations to President Putin and Russia for putting on a truly great World Cup Tournament — one of the best ever!” U.S. President Trump tweeted.

France forward Kylian Mbappe, a goalscorer in the showpiece won the FIFA Young Player award.

Pele paid tribute to 19-year-old Mbappe:

“Only the second teenager to have scored a goal in a #WorldCupFinal! Welcome to the club, @KMbappe – it’s great to have some company! // O segundo adolescente a marcar um gol em uma final de #CopaDoMundo! Bem-vindo ao clube, Kylian – é ótimo ter a sua companhia!” Pele wrote. Then 17-year-old Pele scored for Brazil against Sweden in the 1958 final.

“If Kylian keeps equalling my records like this I may have to dust my boots off again… // Se o @KMbappe continuar a igualar os meus records assim, eu vou ter que tirar a poeira das minhas chuteiras novamente…#WorldCupFinal” 77-year-old Pele added.

Mbappe’s dazzling performances at Russia 2018 also pose a tantalizing question: Is the Paris Saint-Germain forward ready to dethrone Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player on the planet?

Ronaldo scored four goals in this tournament but was unable to help his team advance beyond the round of 16. Messi was a shadow of his usual self, scoring just once in an erratic Argentina side that also bowed out in the first round of the knockout phase.

Harry Kane claims the adidas Golden Boot after scoring six goals for England – the first Englishman to win the award since Gary Lineker in 1986

Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois takes the adidas Golden Glove award, and Spain collected the FIFA Fair Play Trophy. Croatia’s Luka Modric took the adidas Golden Ball prize.

“How marvellous! It’s a young team, who are on the top of the world. Some are champions at the age of 19. We did not play a huge game but we showed mental quality. And we scored four goals anyway. They deserved to win. The group worked so hard and we had some tough moments along the way. It hurt so much to lose the Euro two years ago, but it made us learn too. The win is not about me, it’s the players who won the game. For 55 days, we have done a lot of work. It is the supreme coronation. We are proud to be French, to be Blues. The victory in the match belongs to them. Vive le Republic.” France coach Didier Deschamp said.

“I had a very young group, 14 of them were on a discovery journey in the World Cup. But the quality was there. My greatest source of pride with this group is that they managed to have the right state of mind for such a tournament. I repeat all the time: never give up, never give up anything. There are imperfections and today we didn’t do everything right but we do have those mental and psychological qualities that were decisive for this World Cup. In the first half of this final we didn’t have much but we were leading 2-1. So, of course the question to be asked is always: are France a beautiful champion? Well, we are world champions and France are going to be on top of the world for next four years. That’s what needs to be remembered.” France coach Didier Deschamp added.

“I congratulate France on their title. We played well in the first 20 minutes, we controlled the game. Then there was an own goal from a set play. We came back to life, dominated and then the penalty was given.I have to congratulate my players, it was maybe the best game we played in these championships; we controlled the match but we conceded. Against such a strong side as France you must not make mistakes. We are a bit sad but we have to be proud as well for what we’ve done.” Croatia coach, Zlatko Dali said.

“We were the better team in the first half, we were attacking, but we were unlucky tonight. They scored four goals from their three shots on goal. But I congratulate France, they deserved it.” Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic said.

“I don’t realise yet what it is. I’m very proud of this team: the players and the staff, the technical staff and medical staff. We were really a united group,We did something incredible, we made history and we are going to enjoy it. We’re going to see our families and we’re going to party. Tomorrow in France will be the same, we’re going to party with the French people.” Antoine Griezmann said.

This was France’s tournament. Didier Deschamps’ men began in unconvincing fashion, grinding out a 2-1 victory over Australia. But they grew with every match and by the end of it they looked a supremely well-oiled machine that had struck a perfect balance between defensive discipline and unrivalled attacking flair. They also showed that in Mbappe they have a player worthy of ending Ronaldo and Messi’s decade-long Ballon d’Or monopoly.

A total of 32 national football teams participated in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, held in 11 cities across Russia between June 14 and July 15.

The teams were divided into  eight groups, with four in each, and the top two from their relevant groups proceeded to the next round, known as the playoffs or the knockout stage, to keep vying for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy.

Russia held its first time ever edition of the FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a spectacular opening show at the Luzhniki Stadium on the night of June 14.  The World Cup took place at 12 arenas across 11 cities with the final played  at Luzhniki on Sunday, July 15. The  11 host cities are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.

Russia to Keep Visa-Free Entry for Football Fans Until End of 2018 – Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked all, from football fans to volunteers, who helped make a real festival of football throughout the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

“Some fans are emotional, but as it turned out they are responsible people. I was even surprised to see it,” he told journalists after the World Cup final match. “I am very thankful to them. I want to thank them for their attitude to this event.”

He said that it was due in large part to the fans that the world championship had become a real festival of football.

Putin offered special thanks to the “coaches and specialists, to the team,” who “inspired all the fans to take football as a festival.” The Russian president also thanked organizers.

“Hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers were engaged in all the host cities. I would like to thank them as well, because they welcomed out guests, accompanied them, with the smile on their faces, always kind-heartedly,” Putin noted, adding that the page where Russia is pictured as a hostile country and its citizens as gloomy and unfriendly people should be turned over.

Russia will provide visa-free entrance to the country for football fans with fan IDs until the end of 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

“I think that we will provide visa-free entrance to Russia for foreign fans, who currently have fan IDs, until the end of 2018. This will be a multiple entry visa-free regime,” Putin told reporters.

The Russian leader expressed hope that fans will take advantage of this opportunity and “come to Russia more than once with friends and members of their families.”

Putin took part in the closing ceremony of the championship and the ceremony of awarding the winner.

The Russian President held informal conversations with a number of foreign leaders, including former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, incumbent French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron, as well as with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and her family, and Moldovan President Igor Dodon, and other guests of honor during the break in the FIFA World Cup final game between France and Croatia

Putin hands World Cup host mantle to emir of Qatar

Russian President Vladimir Putin has handed over the World Cup host mantle to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the head of the state that will stage the next global football tournament in four years.

In an official ceremony at the Kremlin, Putin handed a symbolic World Cup ball to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who then passed it to Sheikh Tamim.

The official ceremony marked the end of Russia’s role as 2018 World Cup host nation, and saw Infantino praising the country for staging a great football festival, which he had earlier hailed as “the best ever.”

Sheikh Tamim thanked Putin for the warm welcome and support that has been extended to members of the Qatar Local Organizing Committee, who are currently visiting Russia to garner experience of hosting the World Cup.

“…..Hosting the World Cup is an important event for us, I remember how in 2010 we got the right to host it, and it was a great day for the country. We only hope that our nation will repeat the success of the Russian team or even exceed it,” Sheikh Tamim concluded.

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Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

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