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France is the champion of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final, besting Croatia by 4 goals to 2.
France entered the tournament as a favorite, powered by stars such as Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, while Croatia was seen as a longshot for victory.
“We are world champions and France are going to be on top of the world for next four years,” French coach Didier Deschamps said after the game. He called the tournament a “beautiful celebration of football.”
The win has caused celebrations to erupt all over France, with jubilant fans waving French fans and cheering. Here’s the moment France won the game, captured by FRANCE 24:
It’s possible that nobody was more excited than French President Emmanuel Macron. Indy Football caught this image of him celebrating at the stadium during the game:
By some measures, Croatia dominated the match. It held possession of the ball for more than 60 percent of it. It had better passing accuracy than France, and made nearly double the attempts at the goal than France did.
Still, France’s offense came through at key moments, and their four goals secured their title as World Cup Champions.
At 18 minutes in, Croatia received its first major blow. Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic mistakenly scored a goal for France by heading it into his own team’s goal. As FIFA’s official live blog noted, Mandzukic now “has the misfortune of being the first player to score an own goal in a World Cup Final.”
Shortly after, Croatia’s Ivan Perisic delivered a goal, tying up the game. Then, referees awarded France a penalty kick for a handball by Perisic, giving France a valuable opportunity.
It’s an opportunity that France’s Antoine Griezmann made the most of, scoring a goal and bringing the score up to 2-1 at the half.
The handball penalty was awarded after a review from Video Assistant Referees. As NPR has reported, this tournament is the first time that FIFA “has allowed video replay to be used to make penalty calls in a World Cup.” According to CBS Soccer, Griezmann’s penalty kick was the first VAR-assisted score in a World Cup final.
France’s Paul Pogba scored at the 59 minute mark, quickly followed by another goal from France six minutes later, this time from Mbappe. That goal was also historic. It made 19-year-old Mbappe the first teenager to score at a World Cup Final since Pele, the Brazilian soccer legend.
(Pele later congratulated Mbappe in a Tweet, saying “If Kylian keeps equalling my records like this I may have to dust my boots off again…”)
Croatia’s Mandzukic then scored, bringing the score to 4-2, thanks to an error from France.
The teams met at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday, ending the month-long tournament played across Russia.
Game play was not the only action happening on the field. During the second half, a group of intruders stormed onto the pitch dressed in what appeared to be police uniforms.
The group was eventually taken off the field by officials. Before that, one of them managed to give a high five to France’s Mbappe.
According to Reuters, the intruders are affiliated with Pussy Riot, the anti-Kremlin Russian punk band. Group member Olga Kurachyova told the wire service that she was one of the invaders. She was speaking from a police station near the stadium.
The group’s actions were protesting practices of the Russian government. According to The Guardian, Pussy Riot said its demands include freedom for political prisoners.
Croatia’s Luka Modric was awarded the Golden Ball for the tournament, given to the competition’s best player. The Golden Boot, awarded to the leading scorer, went to England’s Harry Kane. Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois won the Golden Glove, given to the best goalkeeper, and Mbappe received the Young Player Award. Spain’s disciplinary record was honored with the tournament’s Fair Play Trophy.
Croatia’s appearance in the final had a lot to do with their historic streak of endurance, as NPR’s sports correspondent Tom Goldman reported.
“It’s a day of firsts for Croatia: first time in a World Cup Final, first team to get to the final after winning three straight extra time games.” He added that “if France can outlast the Croatians, it will mean a second championship and the first since 1998.”
Les Bleus have done just that.