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Argentina beat France in the World Cup final via penalty kicks in an epic clash that unfolded during a heart-pounding 3-3 draw in regulation time, as Lionel Messi won his World Cup-defining legacy.

The GOAT debates are now over. Lionel Messi is the greatest of all time.

This final may have been the greatest sporting event of all time.

[ MORE: List of Messi’s career honors ]

The victory secured Argentina’s third World Cup title in its history and first since 1986. It is Lionel Messi’s first World Cup title as the 35-year-old was harassed by his teammates in the final whistle amid tears, relief and unbridled joy.

This is what it’s all about. And this game delivered one of the greatest sporting finals of all time, as for the third time in history, the World Cup was decided on penalties.

WATCH FULL REPLAY

Lionel Messi scored the first goal and set up the second for Angel di Maria as Argentina led 2-0 at half time, but with 10 minutes of normal time to go, Kylian Mbappe scored a penalty and then struck another soon after to put the 2-2 and send the game to extra time.

Messi put Argentina up 3-2 at the end of extra time as it looked like he had won, again, for Argentina. But then Mbappé won another penalty kick and finished it off for a hat trick to make it 3-3, as he became only the second player in history to score a hat trick in the World Cup final.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Both teams had chances to win it in regulation time, but then Emiliano Martínez was the hero when he saved Coman’s penalty and Aurelien Tchouameni missed for France as Argentina netted all four and Montiel netted the winning penalty.

Cue wild scenes in Qatar, in Argentina and from soccer lovers around the world as Lionel Messi finally won the World Cup his legacy deserved.

[ MORE: World Cup final odds, favorites, lines ]


Messi scores career-defining win as epic finale delivers drama galore

Lionel Messi, 35, deserves this World Cup. For everything he has given to the world of soccer in the last two decades, he deserves to have won it all. He delivered throughout this tournament and now his legacy is complete. He will probably surpass Pelé and Diego Maradona after this. Until he won a World Cup, the debate was always there about who is the real GOAT. Now it ends. It’s messi France did their part with their stunning comeback to force extra time and penalty kicks, but there was a sense of doom surrounding Argentina’s winning this World Cup, which Messi said would be their last. If it’s his last World Cup, he talks about going out in style. In 100 years we will be talking about Lionel Messi and we will probably also be talking about this World Cup final.


stars of the show

Lionel Messi: Two goals, a superb display and he got his World Cup trophy. What more is there to say? The 2022 World Cup was Lionel Messi’s World Cup.

kylian mbappe: Hat-trick and delivered when France needed it most. Scored eight goals in the World Cup to win the Golden Boot and has scored 12 World Cup goals in two tournaments. Among active players, only Messi (13) has scored more than the 23-year-old.

angel of mary: Scored and won a penalty before being withdrawn. What an impact the veteran had. Good decision by Scaloni to give him the title.

emiliano martinez: He magnificently stopped Kolo Muani at the end and was the hero in the penalty shootout with a save.

Argentina vs. Francegraphic track fotmob.com


How to watch Argentina vs France live, streaming link and start time

Kick off: 10 a.m. ET – Sunday, December 18
Stadium: Iconic Lusail Stadium, Lusail
TV channels in Spanish: Telemundo
Streaming in Spanish: Peacock (all 64 games)

ARGENTINA WINS IT! LIONEL MESSI HAS HIS WORLD CUP! WIN 4-2 IN PENALTY KICKS IN THE WORLD CUP FINAL. THAT HAS TO BE ONE OF THE GREATEST SPORTS FINALS OF ALL TIME!?

Emiliano Martínez stops Coman and Tchouameni takes his deflected penalty. Montiel has options to win the World Cup for Argentina…

LET’S GO TO THE PENALTY KICKS!

Kolo Muani almost won it! What a save by Emi Martinez. And then Lautaro Martínez almost wins it at the other end.

GOLLLL! Argentina 3-3 France. Kylian Mbappé scores the penalty after a handball on Montiel. Wow. Mbappé hat-trick in the World Cup final.

This is a World Cup for history.

GOLLLL! Argentina 3-2 France – Lionel Messi pushes the ball home after Lautaro Martinez’s shot hits Lloris in the face and Messi squeezes.

Argentina have been much better in extra time so far.

FULL TIME – Argentina 2-2 France – Somehow they hold on to extra time. France has incredible momentum. Argentina everywhere. 30 extra minutes coming up.

This is wild. It is intense. France is all over Argentina. Lionel Messi has a shot that Hugo Lloris stops. What a moment that would have been.

GOLLLL! Argentina 2-2 France – Mbappé finishes off a volley. This is incredible. What a return! Simply amazing.

PENALTY TO FRANCE! – Argentina 2-1. Mbappé finishes off after Otamendi drags Kolo Muani.

HALFTIME – Argentina 2-0 France – This suits Argentina perfectly. Can France go more direct and come back to this?

Substitutes for France as Kolo Muani and Thuram come on for Dembele and Giroud.

GOLLLL! Great counter attack from Argentina and some wonderful passes to find Angel di Maria and the final from him is lovely. 2-0 to Argentina before the break. They are in dreamland.

Can France answer? Argentina can now sit back and beat France up on the counter. It’s set up perfectly for them.

GOLLLL! Lionel Messi finishes off the penalty kick as he keeps his cool to send Lloris down the wrong path. 1-0 to Argentina.

PENALTY TO ARGENTINA! Cut of Di María by Dembélé in the area. Huge chance for Lionel Messi to open the scoring. Argentina has started the final much better than France.


Key stories, players to watch closely

The key battle and story is obviously the master against his apprentice. Will 35-year-old Lionel Messi win the World Cup trophy he has coveted throughout his legendary career? Or will his PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe, 23, lead France to back-to-back World Cups and the second of his young career? In the rest of the field, the main battle will be fought in the center of the field.

The midfield trio of Enzo Fernández, Rodrigo de Paul and Alexis Mac Allister have been sensational for Argentina, while defensively they are flexible to switch between a four and five defence. Having Montiel and Acuña back from suspension gives Lionel Scaloni a national team headache as he looks to lead Argentina to their third World Cup trophy and first since 1986 when the great Diego Maradona led them to the glory in Mexico. Can Messi do the same in Qatar? However, Messi has been recovering from a sore hamstring this week and all eyes will be on him (naturally) and his fitness, but he starts. Scaloni starts with a defense of four, but Tagliafico starts ahead of Acuña on the left back. Angel di Maria starts in place of Paredes, which suggests that Argentina has a chance early on.

As for France, well, they have fought their way through this tournament and the reigning champions have hardly been electric. But they’ve done the job and are one win away from becoming the third team in history to win back-to-back World Cups. Didier Deschamps was affected by serious injuries before this World Cup, but his team has recovered extremely well with the participation of youngsters. Ibrahima Konate entered for the semifinal and played very well, but Dayot Upamecano comes out ahead of him. Like Argentina, France still looks a bit shaky defensively. In midfield, Antoine Griezmann is rolling back the years in his new role as the deeper playmaker and Aurelien Tchouameni has been terrific playing the holding role. Above, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud purr and give France incredible balance. Many players have been affected by a disease virus in the France camp, but they have all recovered in time. There were also reports that Karim Benzema could return to the France squad for this final after he left just before the tournament started due to injury and was never replaced, but is now fit. Deschamps refused to talk much about it and Benzema is not included in the squad.


France fast facts

[ MORE: Argentina’s history at the World Cup ]

Current FIFA World Ranking: 4
World Cup titles: 2 (1998, 2018)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Automatically qualified from UEFA (Won Group D)
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Key players: Kylian Mbappé, Hugo Lloris, Antoine Griezmann, Raphael Varane
Road to the 2022 World Cup final: Finished top of Group C; beat australia 2-1 in the last 16; beat the Netherlands in penalty kicks in quarterfinals; beat croatia 3-0 in semifinals

Argentina quick facts

[ MORE: France’s history at the World Cup ]

Current FIFA World Ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: CONMEBOL automatic qualifiers (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Emiliano Martinez, Nicolas Otamendi, Julian Alvarez
Road to the 2022 World Cup final: Finished top of Group D; beat poland 3-1 in the last 16; beat england 2-1 in quarterfinals; beat morocco 2-0 in semifinals


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