By Jimoh Bashir
Paris Saint-Germain star, Kylian Mbappe capped his debut World Cup by becoming the first teenager to score in the final since Pele in 1958, as France yesterday beat Croatia 4-2 to become world champions for a second time.
Mbappe, only 19, scored the fourth goal in France’s victory in Moscow to take his tally for the tournament to four goals in seven games.
He also produced some devastating bursts down the right flank for Didier Deschamps’ team to cause panic in the Croatia defence.
But in a game that looked set to be dominated by Video Assistant Referee (VAR) decisions after France’s first two goals were surrounded by controversy, a second half surge by the French clinched their first world title since 1998.
It was not a straightforward victory for Les Bleus, however. Mario Mandzukic’s own goal, from Antoine Griezmann’s 19th minute free-kick, gave France the lead, but it was cancelled out by a stunning Ivan Perisic left footer nine minutes later.
France then regained their lead on 38 minutes after a VAR review led to referee Nestor Pitana awarding a penalty following a Perisic handball.
Croatia’s sense of injustice counted for little, however, with France scoring through Paul Pogba and Mbappe to go 4-1 ahead by the 62nd minute.
A Hugo Lloris error gifted Mandzukic a goal for Croatia on 68 minutes, but by that stage, France had the game.
Croatia, arguably a surprise package of the 2018 Russia World Cup won all their matches up till the final, coming from behind in the Second Round, quarter and semi-finals.
Ivan Perisic’s equaliser in the 28th minute looked like they were going to re-enact that feat, but France punctured that.
Although they dominated play from the very first to the last minute, France players were more determined to make history, especially the coach, who has now won the World Cup both as a player and coach.
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino had earlier in a statement, described Russia 2018 World Cup a huge success, in standard of play, organization and commercial value.
Belgium had earlier on Saturday, defeated England 2-0 to claim bronze.
The next World Cup in 2022 will hold in Qatar, and for the first time since 1930, the championship will come up between November and December, as against its Summer timing.