In what may have been the most extraordinary World Cup final ever, Argentina beat France in large part because of Lionel Messi, who played a career-defining game. In what he said would be his last World Cup game, Messi scored two of the team’s three goals as well as the first goal in the team’s penalty shootouts.
Argentina scored two goals in the first half, as France seemed slack and uncertain. Then, in the space of less than two minutes in the second half, Kylian Mbappé scored back-to-back goals for France, tying the game. In extra time, Messi and Mbappé each scored a goal. Finally, in the shootout, Argentina won on penalties, 4-2, as the crowd in Qatar burst into tears of joy and grief.
For Mbappé, it was a devastating result, his coach, Didier Deschamps, said. “Kylian has really left his mark on this final,” he said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t leave it in the way he would have liked. That’s why he was so disappointed at the end of the night.” France, which won the last World Cup, had hoped to be the first country to retain the trophy since Brazil in 1962.
Grown men are sobbing minutes before the game ended. Angel Di Maria was overcome with emotion after giving Argentina a 2-0 lead in the 36th minute against France in the World Cup final.
Di María could not contain his emotion after scoring the goal, breaking down in tears while celebrating. It was the 34-year-old’s third career World Cup goal, and his first at the 2022 tournament. Di María has represented Argentina in four World Cups, starting with the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
Messi left Argentina at age 13 and has lived in the shadow of Diego Maradona, who hoisted the World Cup trophy for Argentina 36 years ago. Now, the country has unequivocally embraced Messi, who won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player.