MOSCOW (Reuters) – France were 2-1 ahead against Croatia at halftime in the World Cup final after a pulsating opening 45 minutes at the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday.
France took the lead when Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic, who scored the extra-time winner over England in the semi-final, inadvertently headed home an Antoine Griezmann free-kick in the 18th minute for the first own goal in a World Cup final.
Croatia’s Ivan Perisic, who had also scored in the semi-final, leveled with a powerful shot 10 minutes later after France had failed to clear a Luka Modric free-kick.
But Perisic was then responsible for conceding a penalty for handball that was give following a VAR decision and Griezmann coolly converted the spot-kick in the 38th to put the French back in front.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Ken Ferris