In what many are dubbing “The Best World Cup Final Ever”, Argentina won the 2022 World Cup final against France. Quite simply put, a game that had everything that a neutral would want. It appeared at one point that Argentina was cruising to victory with Messi scoring a 23rd-minute penalty goal after a foul on Di Maria and then the second goal from an exquisite 5-pass counterattacking move that was finished beautifully by Angel Di Maria to make it 2-0. To be quite honest, it would not have been far-fetched or even unreasonable to say that Argentina was quite superior and France looked like they didn’t turn up for this game. As the game approached the 80th minute you could have seen the defeated look from many French fans and players, but then the game turned in a way that no one could have possibly predicted
In the 81st minute, in what seemed to be a routine rare ball forward by France, a penalty was awarded to France after a Nicholas Otamendi foul in the box. The first glaring mistake made by Argentina up until that point. Mbappe stepped up to probably one of the best goalkeepers in the business at stopping penalty kicks, and he scored. With the game at 2-1 the entire dynamic changed and suddenly the game that seemed done and dusted was far from over. Within minutes Mbappe scored from a very difficult angle while falling backward to equalize and completely revitalize the French.
Extra time proved to be just as exciting. Argentina seemed to be a bit rattled and both teams went back and forth in what was far from a cautious approach. Make no mistake, both teams were intent on trying to win and not going for penalties. Lautaro Martinez who came on for Julien Alvarez continued his poor form up front after several chances that he would normally bury would go to waste. In the 2nd half of extra time, a lovely bit of combination play between Messi and Lautaro Martinez in the 110th minute resulted in Messi getting the third goal that would appear to seal the game. But anyone who looked at this World Cup so far knew that it would be foolish to assume this game was over, even though there was some doubt about the goal going over the line, when it was clearly shown that it did. With the score 3-2 in the 116th minute, a penalty was awarded to France after the ball struck Gonzalo Montiel on the arm. A clear handball by the French player leading up to this was ignored but the penalty was still given. Kylian Mbappe stepped up and scored, and a game that can only be described as absolutely insane just got more nerve-wracking. As if the game could not get any more chaotic, a chance created from what seemed like the most random ball from deep from the French found its way to Randal Kolo Muani, who had his shot thwarted by a tremendous save from Emiliano Martinez in the 120th minute. Within seconds, before anyone could catch their breaths, Argentina immediately attack only for Lautaro Martinez to once again head wide from a very good chance.
With the shootout about to begin, one could not help but lean to the side of Argentina after seeing how Emiliano Martinez has performed in shoot outs for his country in the past. Mbappe and Messi both put away their respective penalties. Messi’s penalty seemed as audacious as it gets as he casually rolled the ball to the right of Lloris to score. Considering the stakes of this game it was quite confident and cold by the Argentina star. Emiliano Martinez once again showed his antics and was able save Kingsley Coman’s shot and then Aurelien Tchouameni had his shot go wide. Gonzalo Montiel stepped up and made up for the penalty awarded against him to easily beat Hugo Lloris to seal glory for Argentina for the first time since 1986.
The World Cup champions will earn $42 million in prize money for their soccer federation while the losing team in the final will get $30 million from a FIFA prize fund of $440 million. After their win at the final, Messi was awarded the coveted Golden Ball, a prize given to the tournament’s best player. He is now the only player in the history of the World Cup games to receive the Golden Ball twice. This win is something that will be celebrated for years to come as Argentina now get that long-awaited third star and sums up the perfect fairy tale ending for Lionel Messi and Argentina.
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