All good things must end, and that’s the tale of the FIFA World Cup 2022 tournament. It indeed was a beautiful ending as Argentina and France gave their best performance in what could arguably be one of the most entertaining finals in the history of the World Cup. Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi was the name on every football fan’s lips at the end of the finals as the curtains were drawn on the tournament. Here we will look at how the finals went and how Argentina eventually won the World Cup in Lionel Messi’s era.
The game started with a high tempo, with the Argentines dominating and retaining ball possession. France was outplayed entirely, but they maintained their shape and resisted the pressure. However, in football, there’s a limit to which you can just keep defending the ball.
Regular Time: 2-2
- In an abysmal performance and probably his worst in France’s colors, Ousmane Dembele was responsible for Argentina’s opener as he fouled the tricky Angel Di Maria in box 18. Lionel Messi stepped up to the task and sent Hugo Lloris the wrong way to give Argentina the lead.
- France just couldn’t get a break in this game. In the 36th minute, Argentina’s counter-attack, initiated by Lionel Messi, led to an Angel Di Maria goal, which meant France was down by two goals before the close of the first half. At this point, it looked like Argentina was destined to win the trophy, as France was playing without desire.
- Before the close of the half, France’s coach, Didier Deschamps, made bold decisions by taking out Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele. However, Dembele’s substitution was justified as he was the worst player on the pitch. Giroud’s removal was questionable, as he was France’s second-highest scorer in the competition. Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram replaced Dembele and Giroud.
- The second half was different, we saw a more balanced game, and France saw more of the ball and kept pushing. Yet in another audacious move, France’s coach removed Theo Hernadez and took out the under-performing Antoine Griezmann for Eduardo Camavinga to put more bodies in the midfield where they were being outplayed and Kingsley Coman for more attacking threat.
- France finally got a legitimate chance at goal when Argentina’s defender Nicolas Otamendi fouled Kolo Muani in the penalty box, and the referee pointed to the spot. 23-year-old Paris Saint Germain forward Kylian Mbappe stepped up and converted the spot kick beautifully to bring France within a goal.
- Barely a minute later, Kylian Mbappe again orchestrated a one-two play and converted a beautiful volley beyond Emiliano Martinez’s reach to put France level. This goal changed the game completely, giving the French nationals hope for a back-to-back World Cup win.
- The Argentines handled the pressure well and made some attempts at the goal at the death of the game, which was foiled by either poor finishing or a brilliant stop by the French defenders and goalkeeper. France held the fort and pushed the game to extra time.
Extra Time: 3-3
- Both teams made some changes in the first half of the extra time, and it paid off for Argentina in the 109th minute, when Lionel Messi pounced on a Lloris spillover from Lautaro Martinez’s shot to put Argentina ahead.
- The French did not allow this to dampen their feelings as they kept mounting pressure on Argentina. It finally paid off in the second half of the extra time when a penalty was awarded to France for Gonzalo Montiel blocking Kylian Mbappe’s shot with his arm.
- Kylian Mbapper converted the spot kick to make it his third of the game and consequently brought the game to level terms. Both teams made last-gasp efforts to prevent the game from going to a shootout, but it was inevitable as the game ended 3-3 at the end of the extra time.
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Penalty Shootout: 4-2, Argentina Won On Penalties
- Kylian Mbappe was the first to take the spot kick, and he converted it; despite Emiliano Martinez getting his hands on it, it wasn’t enough to deny the Frenchman.
- Lionel Messi similarly scored his penalty as he tucked it in the center, while Lloris’ last-gasp effort to change direction was futile.
- Kingsley Coman was next in line for France. He attempted a low shot, which Martinez saved.
- Paulo Dybala, who barely got minutes in the tournament, was next to play the spot kick for the Argentines and converted it calmly.
- Aurelien Tchouameni missed his spot kick widely and ultimately blew the French’s hope of winning the trophy.
- Leandro Paredes scored his penalty kick for Argentina to put the Albicelestes upfront by two.
- Kolo Muani drove his kick down the middle to give France a glimpse of hope.
- Down to the deciding kick, with pressure on Lloris to make a save to give France a lifeline in the shootout, Gonzalo Montiel sent Lloris the wrong way to win the World Cup for Argentina.
The game ended 3-3 at the end of regular time and 4-2 on penalties.
Half A Goal predicted correctly that Lionel Messi would score or assist, while Kylian Mbappe was also tipped to score.
It was a beautiful scene to see Lionel Messi finally win the much-coveted trophy, which completes his career and puts him in the G.O.A.T status (Greatest Of All Times). Kylian Mbappe, who emerged as the highest goal scorer in the competition with eight goals, is the next big thing in football. Lionel Messi emerged as the player of the tournament; Emiliano Martinez won the golden glove, while Argentine midfielder Enzo Fernadez was the young player of the tournament.
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