Argentina beat France on penalties to win thrilling World Cup final

Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties to win the 2022 World Cup after a 3-3 draw in a thrilling final at the Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday.

Argentina raced into a two-goal lead through Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria before two Kylian Mbappe goals saw holders France pull level in spectacular fashion. Messi put Argentina ahead in extra-time before Mbappe completed his hat trick from the penalty spot to send the game to a penalty shootout.

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The result means Messi, playing in his record 26th and final World Cup match, achieves a fairy-tale ending as he lifts the trophy for the first time -- the only major honour to have eluded him in his career.

It is Argentina's third World Cup title after previous victories in 1978 and 1986.

"I cannot believe that we have suffered so much in a perfect game. Unbelievable, but this team responds to everything," Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni said.

"I am proud of the work they did. It is an exciting group. With the blows we received today, with the draws, this makes you emotional. I want to tell people to enjoy, it's a historic moment for our country."

Meanwhile, France, who won the tournament's previous edition in 2018, were denied in their bid to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cups since Brazil in 1962.

Di Maria's inclusion over Leandro Paredes was the only change for Argentina from the semifinal victory over Croatia. France made two changes, as Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot started after missing their semifinal win against Morocco with a virus that impacted the squad this week.

France were initially sluggish, as Mbappe barely had a touch on the left wing in the opening stages. Meanwhile, his Argentine counterpart Di Maria looked dangerous and earned a penalty on 21 minutes when he went down under a clumsy challenge from France's Ousmane Dembele. Messi stepped up to convert and calmly rolled the ball into the bottom-left corner.

Di Maria starred once again shortly after when Messi set midfielder Alexis Mac Allister free down the right wing before he slotted across to an eagerly arriving Di Maria, who struck past France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. It was Di Maria's third straight final with a goal for Argentina, his previous coming in the 2021 Copa America final victory over Brazil.

France were uncharacteristically weak going forward, and by 41 minutes, Deschamps made his first substitutions, bringing on Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram for Olivier Giroud and Dembele.

Argentina continued to dominate for much of the second half, but France, who took until 71 minutes to register a shot, burst into life late in the game and were rewarded when substitute Kolo Muani won a penalty with little more than 10 minutes remaining, which Mbappe scored.

Mbappe scored again just 97 seconds later as France won the ball back at the halfway-line before eventually feeding the PSG man with a floated pass on the edge of the box that he volleyed into the bottom right corner.

Argentina's once vibrant attack was then deflated as they desperately held on before Messi, with almost the last kick of regulation time, struck a shot from 25 yards that forced Lloris into a spectacular save, sending the game to extra-time.

The drama did not end there. Argentina thought they had won it when Messi pounced to slot home a parry from Lloris, but France equalised again before time was out as Mbappe completed his hat trick with another penalty following a Gonzalo Montiel handball, sending the game to a shootout.

The goal -- Mbappe's eighth in Qatar -- meant he became just the second man ever to score a hat trick in a World Cup final and helped him beat Messi to the tournament's Golden Boot award.

Mbappe and Messi converted the two opening penalties, but Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved the next two France efforts from Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni before Montiel stepped up and converted to help Argentina to a 4-2 win on penalties.