FRANCE 4 CROATIA 2 (Moscow)
France are the 2018 FIFA World Cup Champions after defeating Croatia, 4-2 on Sunday in Moscow.
The title is second World Cup title in France’s history and their first since the 1998 title.
Croatia started the match on the front foot, quickly dominating and caging France in their half. Then, in the 18th minute, France was able to break away with the counterattack until Marcelo Brozovic tackled Antoine Griezmann to the ground, awarding Les Bleus a free kick from a dangerous position. Griezmann stepped up and fired the shot into the box, where Mario Mandzukic miscalculated the play, heading the ball into the post to give France the lead and score the first own goal at a World Cup final.
Just 10 minutes later, Croatia retaliated as Luka Modric floated a free kick into the box, finding Ivan Perisic, who unleashed an unstoppable diagonal drive into the bottom corner for the equalizer. VAR, then, made an appearance in the match after a 33rd-minute French corner led players to question whether Perisic committed a handball within the box. After a brief review of the play, the referee called for a France penalty in the 38th minute. Griezmann approached the spot, and calmly slipped the ball past Danijel Subasic to regain the lead.
Despite the score, Croatia returned to the pitch with electric energy, regaining possession and overpowering their opponent. Then, in the 59th minute, Paul Pogba found a way to escape the Croatian offense, reaching the box and attempting his first shot on goal. Though his initial effort was blocked, the ball broke away, allowing Pogba to find the rebound and fire his second attempt into the net to increase France’s lead.
Kylian Mbappe took advantage of France’s vigor, gaining possession of the ball 25 yards from goal and curled a low shot into the back of the post to become the second teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pele in 1958.
The 4-1 scoreline began to take a toll on Croatian players as their energy and drive diminished, inspiring the side to take on a more defensive role. Suddenly, in the 69th minute, Mario Mandzukic capitalized on a goalkeeping error from Hugo Lloris, allowing Croatia to cut the lead to one.
Though Croatia pushed forward in search of a goal; it was not enough to overcome a stout French defense who secured their second World Cup title.