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LIVE FROM MOSCOW: France defeat Croatia in six-goal classic

France have won the World Cup final after defeating Croatia 4-2 in Moscow.

Goals from Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and an own goal was enough for Les Bleus to claim their second World Cup trophy.

It was match that had everything; a penalty, an own goal, VAR controversy and a calamitous goalkeeping error, but ultimately France showed their class by knocking off the resilient Vatreni.

With thousands of their own fans dominating the atmosphere inside Luzhniki Stadium, Croatia asserted control in the opening fifteen minutes. Their slick interplay was in vain though as no chances were created before France's opening goal after 18 minutes.

After earning a soft free kick from an innocuous challenge, Antoine Griezmann whipped in an in-swinging cross that was met by Mario Mandzukic. Unfortunately for the Juventus striker, he couldn't get enough on his header to clear the cross, the ball instead flying past Danijel Subasic and into the top corner for the first ever own goal in a World Cup final.

Croatia have shown an iron will all tournament and France's opener hardly deterred their early enthusiasm. Their perseverance paid off just six minutes later as Ivan Perisic fired home the equaliser.

A free-kick met the head of Sime Vrsaljko who headed across goal to a swarm of players from both teams. Perisic, who has been phenomenal throughout this tournament, got to the bouncing ball first before taking a touch to his left and unleashing an unstoppable half-volley past Hugo Lloris.

The scores only stayed level for ten minutes however, as Antoine Griezmann restored France's lead from the penalty spot, but not without some controversy.

A corner taken from the Atletico Madrid star bounced off Ivan Perisic and out for a corner. Several France players remonstrated with the referee pointing to their hands.

Nestor Pitana confirmed with his colleagues upstairs that he would check with the VAR himself, and after a lengthy review, the Argentinian pointed to the spot for a handball on Perisic. Griezmann made no mistake from 12 yards, waiting for Subasic to dive before cooly slotting ball into the bottom left-hand corner.

The second half begun in fifth gear with Croatia taking the early ascendancy. But once again, it was France who struck first.

Paul Pogba got the attack going with an ambitious through ball to Kylian Mbappe. The teenagerwhipped in a dangerous cross that was met by Griezmann, who delicately laid it off to Pogba. After his first effort was blocked, the Manchester United star picked up the rebound and curled a precise strike to the right of Subasic.

Les Bleus waited just six minutes to stretch their lead, Mbappe this time getting in on the act. Afforded plenty of space after Lucas Hernandez's marauding run sucked in the Croatian defence, the PSG star steered his shot into the bottom corner past Subasic, who had been caught off balance.

France should've cruised to victory with their three goal cushion but captain Hugo Lloris made them endure a tough final twenty minutes with a shocking error. The Spurs goalkeeper tried to be cute as he waited for Mario Mandzukic to close him down and was punished, his pass bouncing off the 32-year-old and into the back of the net.

Despite the flicker of hope, Croatia seemingly ran out of legs after playing through three extra-time periods on their way to the final.

Once the final whistle blew, the French bench cleared onto the pitch as the celebrations begun. Special time was taken to hurl manager Didier Deschamps into the air, as he now becomes just the third man to win the World Cup as a player and manager.


France - 4 (Mandzukic O.G 18', Griezmann 38', Pogba 59', Mbappe 65')

Croatia - 2 (Perisic 28', Mandzukic 69')

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow - 78,011

Andrew Maclean
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Andrew Maclean

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