France thrash Croatia 4-2 to win 2018 FIFA World Cup

France were crowned the world champions for the second time

france-world-cup-reuters France celebrate with the World Cup trophy after beating Croatia in the final of the FIFA World Cup 2018, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow | Reuters

France were crowned the world champions for the second time after they beat Croatia 4-2 in the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. It was a night of several firsts—the first own goal in a World Cup final (Mandzukic 18’), the first goal to be scored from a VAR penalty in a World Cup final (Griezmann 38’), and the first goal in a World Cup final by a teenager (Mbappe 65’) since Pele in 1958. These were three of the four goals that sealed the win for France and indeed shut doors on Croatia. Paul Pogba was the other scorer as he found the back of the net in his second attempt in the 59th minute. It was not a one-sided game by any means despite the scoreline. Perisic (29’) and Mandzukic (69’) did score for Croatia, but it wasn’t enough in the end.

If the first half started off rustily, Croatia and France certainly had their games greased well by the 11th minute. Rakitic sent a beautiful ball over France’s defence to find Perisic, but his first touch was heavy enough for Umtiti to put it out of play. The game was mostly played in France’s territory. Their first goal came courtesy an own goal. Antoine Griezmann won a questionable free-kick just outside the box. The resultant shot was headed towards goal by a rising Mandzukic, who managed to beat Varane, but unfortunately beat Subasic as well. To be fair to him, Mandzukic didn’t know much about it, but Subasic did very little to defend and Croatia were behind just 18 minutes into the game. France did not have the lead for long. Perisic levelled in the 29th minute, when he blasted a shot on goal from the penalty box into the right corner. The build-up to the goal was excellent. Modric’s free-kick was headed into the penalty area by Vrsaljko, before Perisic blasted into the net. Croatia couldn’t hold on to the equaliser for long. Perisic, cancelled out his goal by awarding a penalty to France in the 36th minute, courtesy a VAR review (the first in a World Cup final). Couple of minutes later, Griezmann had restored France’s lead.

The second half saw Croatia attack with grit. They dominated in possession but couldn’t make it count in the final third. It was France who did so in the 59th minute when Paul Pogba found the back of the net. He started the move, picking up the ball near the half-way line and played it through to Mbappe who returned it to him. Pogba’s first shot was blocked by Modric and the ball fell straight back to him, but his second shot was on target and unhindered. Subasic again didn’t do much as he just watched the Croatian net bulge. It was all too much for Croatia who looked shattered.

Mbappe took advantage in the 65th minute, when he was left in acres of space near the box. He shimmied left and right before sending a low shot past Vida and into the bottom-left corner. Subasic again failed to put in a dive. The goal put Mbappe down in the history books as the only teenager to have scored in a World Cup final since the legendary Pele in 1958. Croatia were given a glimmer of hope in the 69th minute when Mandzukic pounced on a horrendous error from Lloris to make it 4-2. But that was it for Croatia. France stepped up their game and ensured the Croats weren’t given even a sniff of goal after that.

Croatia had never beaten France before in their previous five meetings and that history wasn’t to be rewritten. Croatia will rue their misses and two horrible defensive errors. In hindsight, Subasic was equally to be blamed for three of the goals. His attempts to save looked half-hearted. But France deserved full credit for their victory. They were resolute in their defence and made it count when they ventured up the field. Two decades after their first World Cup, this was a young French side (the youngest in the World Cup) that brought the trophy back home. They were fierce in attack, giving most teams a run for their money with their explosive pace, mostly thanks to a 19-year old Kylian Mbappe. In the end, it was a deserving end to an extraordinary World Cup. Au revoir!