Lionel Messi finally won the title which has eluded his illustrious career after a long 120 minutes of action against France at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar on Sunday.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar helped Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties after playing a 3-3 draw during the normal regulation and 30-minute extra time.
After first-half goals from Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria, it looked like Argentina were all but the winners until Didier Deschamps made first-half changes.
He pulled out Olivier Giroud, and Ousmane Dembele for Randal Kolo Muani, and Marcus Thuram.
The substitution paid off as both players were involved in the two goals scored by Kylian Mbappe in the 80th and 81st minutes to draw France level 2-2 during the normal regulation.
Randal Kolo Muani won the penalty which was scored by Kylian Mbappe, a minute after the first goal, Marcus Thuram whose father was in the stand watching assisted Mbappe’s second goal and the equalizer.
But Lionel Messi scored again, in the additional minute of the second half extra time to give Argentina the lead before Kylian Mbappe scored the equalizer again from the spot kick.
Aurelien Tchouameni and Kingsly Coman missed their penalties to hand Argentina a 4-2 win.
Here are six talking points from the match
6. France and Hugo Lloris’s poor penalty record continue
France have now lost two World Cup finals through penalty shoot-outs, against Italy in 2006, and 2022 against Argentina.
Captain and goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris has also failed to any of the penalty shootouts he has faced while in goal for France in major tournaments.
In fact, he has faced nine penalties and failed to save any.
France were shockingly eliminated at the Euro 2020 by Switzerland via penalty shootout, Hugo Lloris failed to save any of the 5 penalties and also failed to save any of the four he faced today.
5. Didier Deschamps to the rescue
Not all managers can successfully make good in-game substitutions, Didier Deschamps’s decision to take off but Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele for Randal Kolo Muani, and Marcus Thuram helped bring France back into the game.
Before the substitutions, Argentina were having a field day, Kylian Mbappe was not involved, and Olivier Giroud was isolated but the introduction of both Randal Kolo Muani, and Marcus Thuram turned the game on its head.
4. Lionel Scaloni deserves some accolades
Argentina coach, Lionel Scaloni deserves accolades for how he set his team up against France in the final. His decision to play Angel Di Maria and stifle the middle of the park was a bold decision.
He had runners in the middle of the pack, blocking the France passing channels and making it difficult for Griezmann to operate.
We can point at his decision to pull out Angel Di Maria in the second half but he ultimately put Argentina in the position to put up a fight against France.
Lionel Scaloni is the third manager in history to win both the World Cup (2022) and Copa América (2021), after Mário Zagallo (1970 World Cup, 1997 Copa América) and Carlos Alberto Parreira (1994 World Cup, 2004 Copa América), both of whom did so with Brazil.
3. Emiliano Martinez again, the difference marker
Emiliano Martinez showed why he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He made two point-blank saves in key moments to help Argentina get to the shootout.
His save in the 123 minutes from Randal Kolo Muani’s effort will forever be one of the best saves at the World Cup.
It was his heroics during the shootout, saving Kingsly Coman and forcing Aurelien Tchouameni to miss that helped Argentina secure the 4-2 win.
He was also Argentina’s saviour in the quarterfinal shootout win against the Netherlands.
2. Kylian Mbappe came through but …
Kylian Mbappe delivered in a tough final when it looked like it was over for France. The Paris Saint-German forward dragged France back into the contest on two occasions.
He scored two goals in the space of 60 seconds to help France draw level 2-2 during the normal regulations.
Kylian Mbappe also scored in the extra time from the spot kick to help France draw level 3-3.
He also stepped forward and scored his penalty during the penalty shootout – I mean it is a great deal scoring a penalty against Emiliano Martinez not talk of three penalties.
Kylian Mbappe stepped up to help his team, but it was not meant to be. He walked off with the Golden Boot Award after scoring 8 goals.
1. Lionel Messi finally captures the elusive one
The debates and the insult can now end as Lionel Messi finally wins the only title which has eluded his illustrious career.
Lionel Messi won the title by playing key roles, scoring two goals during the 120 minutes an action-packed game and also scoring his penalty during the shootout.
Since the award was officially introduced in 1982, Lionel Messi is the only player to win the Golden Ball twice at the World Cup (2014, 2022).
He joined Diego Maradona as the only two players to have both scored 5+ goals and created 20+ chances in a #FIFAWorldCup tournament (since 1966).