15th July, 2018
Lightening struck twice in 20 years as France clinched the 2018 FIFA World Cup Competition in a thrilling 6 goals final match encounter against hard-fighting Croatia in Russia.
Yes, the last time they won this cup was in 1998 on home soil when they dazzled Brazil in the final match winning by three un-replied goals to the astonishment of not just the Brazilian players and people but also of the rest of the world, France inclusive. This time around the venue was different. So were the players too.
However, the French team came out runaway winners just like their predecessors did 20 years back. “Zizu” must be grinning from ear to ear right now. He was very instrumental in that win then. So was the present coach of the team too, Didier Deschamps.
This second triumph for France was done in a spectacular style as it ended the title dreams of a very brave Croatia with a 4-2 victory in one of the most entertaining and action-packed finals for decades.
This was done courtesy of an own goal from Mario Mandzukic, an Antoine Griezmann penalty — awarded after a VAR review – and second-half strikes by Paul Pogba and teenager Kylian Mbappe. Croatia’s goals came through Ivan Perisic and the unlucky Mario Mandzukic.
This World Cup was unique in the sense that the six goals scored here were as many as those of the last four finals put together. It was also recorded as the highest-scoring decider since England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra-time in 1966 and the highest in normal time since Brazil defeated Sweden 5-2 60 years ago. It also featured the first final own goal and the first VAR-decided spot-kick — one that Croatia were furious about and that was arguably the turning point of the game.
In the game itself, France led 2-1 at halftime after Mandzukic’s own goal and Griezmann’s VAR penalty, with Ivan Perisic briefly bringing first-time finalists Croatia level.
Then came two fast goals by Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe midway through the second half to virtually take the game beyond the Croatians before French goal-keeper gifted Mandzukic a goal courtesy carelessness thereby setting up a really nervous last 20 minutes of the game in which Croatia came close to scoring on a number of occasions but it was not be their day after all.
The French Coach who was lifting the World Cup for a second time – first as a player in 1998 and now as a coach had this to say at the end of the thrilling match;
“How marvelous. It’s a young team who are on the top of the world. Some are champions at the age of 19. We did not play a huge game but we showed mental quality – and we scored four goals. It hurt so much to lose the Euro two years ago, but it made us learn too and we worked so hard for 55 days here.”