Black Immigrant Daily News
Argentina’s Lionel Messi, right, and Angel Di Maria celebrate a goal during the World Cup final against France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, – AP
ARGENTINA are the new FIFA World Cup champions.
The South American giants defeated 2018 winners France on penalties, in a pulsating, gripping and nerve-wrecking final at the Lusail Stadium, Qatar. And they did it the hard way, surviving a Kylian Mbappe hat-trick and throwing away a 2-0 lead, after 79 minutes, and a 3-2 advantage in extra time.
For most of the match, Argentina were cruising and outclassing the defending champions.
Argentina’s talismanic captain, Lionel Messi, had put Argentina ahead with a penalty, in the 23rd, and Angel Di Maria doubled the lead in the 36th, after a sweeping build-up.
France looked lost, and winger Ousmane Dembele and forward Olivier Giroud were hooked in the first half by the France coach.
A second-half penalty provided France a lifeline, and Mbappe stepped up to bury it, in the 80th.
One minute later, the PSG forward rifled a volley past Argentina Emiliano Martinez to make it 2-2, from a pass dinked over the back line.
With penalties beckoning in the second half of extra time, Messi bagged his seventh goal of the competition, tucking in a rebound in the six-yard box.
But France answered with another penalty after a Mbappe shot was illegally blocked by a defender with the hand. He again made no mistake from the spot for his eighth goal of the tournament.
Argentina, who got past the Netherlands in the quarter-final on penalties, after letting slip another 2-0 lead, again held their nerve from the spot to prevail 4-2.