MOSCOW (Reuters) – France won the World Cup for the second time in spectacular style on Sunday, when a 4-2 victory over Croatia in one of the most entertaining and action-packed finals for decades ended dreams from outsiders a first title
After an own goal from Mario Mandzukic, the best of France on the biggest stage of all as Antoine Griezmann – with a penalty awarded after a review of VAR – Paul Pogba and the young tyrant Kylian Mbappe hit the mark.
Ivan Perisic and Mandzukic answered for Croatia, who ended up beaten but without a head after running a lot in their first appearance in the final.
He was the deciding player with the best score since England beat West Germany 4-2 after overtime in 1966 and the most goals in normal time since Brazil defeated Sweden 5-2 60 years ago.
There were as many goals in 90 action-packed minutes in Moscow as in the last four combined finals, and three of them were overtime.
The game featured the first own final goal and the first spot-kick decided by the VAR, a Croatia that was furious and that was possibly the inflection point of the game.
But the only statistic that really matters to France is that the result makes them world champions for the second time after their triumph in their homeland in 1998.
After having lost the 2006 final by penalties against Italy, also meant that there was not repeated two years ago when they were defeated in the final of the European Championship by Portugal in Paris.
Didier Deschamps, captain of the French team in 1998, became the third man to lift the World Cup as player and coach after Brazilian Mario Zagallo and German Franz Beckenbauer.
"This is not about me, it's about everyone around us and the players," Deschamps said after being carried by the shoulders during a post-match downpour.
"It's a young team that is on top of the world, some are champions at the age of 19, but my biggest source of pride is that they had the right mental state.
" Today we did not do everything right but We have those mental and psychological qualities that were decisive, and we got four goals.
"It hurt me so much to lose the Euro two years ago, but it also made us learn and we worked a lot for 55 days here, maybe if we were Euro champions we would not have been world champions today."
] Croatia started full of energy, but was delayed in the 18th minute when a free kick by Griezmann skidded in the head of Mandzukic, who scored the winner of overtime against England in the semi-final.
It was the fourth consecutive qualifying game in which Croatia conceded first, but again they found a way back when Perisic, who got the draw against England, crashed on a shot under 10 minutes later.
Then came the moment that will keep the VAR debate at the top of the sports agenda.
Perisic He waved an arm in a corner and after Argentinian referee Néstor Pitana conducted a long review of VAR, he awarded the 28th penalty of the tournament, another record.
Ignoring the Croatian protests, Griezmann stroked the ball in the 38th minute for his fourth goal for Russia 2018.
That made him the first time with the highest score since 1974, when West Germany led the Netherlands 2-1 – also the final score, but this time there was much more to come.
Croatia was back on top after the break, but France went 3-1 up at the hour when Mbappe and Griezmann combined to put Pogba on the edge of the cliff. The right foot shot of the midfielder was blocked, but he curled the rebound with the left.
Six minutes later, Lucas Hernandez collapsed on the left to prepare Mbappe for a low shot when the 19-year-old player claimed his fourth goal in Russia and became the first teenager to score in a final from Pele in 1958.
After three consecutive knock-out games in overtime, the chances of Croatia returning seemed impossible, but Lloris took away the lifeline, who tried to dribble Mandzukic just for the striker to block the ball and send it to the unprotected network.
Croatia, beaten by the French in the semifinals of 1998 in its first appearance in a World Cup, continued to press but its energy ran out and France resisted.
The shirtless fans of Croatia greeted their players when a torrential rain lashed the presentation ceremony and coach Zlatko Dalic regretted.
"We are sad but proud at the same time," he said. "We played well, but the penalty took our breath away and after that it was very difficult, we have been dignified in our victories and we must also be defeated"
Mitch report Phillips, edited by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond