‘A brilliant performance’: Kylian Mbappé gave it his all in World Cup final

LUSAIL, Qatar — kylian mbappe sitting on the bench, legs spread, his navy blue France shirt pulled up high enough to cover your entire head. The cameras panned to her face for a tear or two, but this was what she had to do to escape. Even if it’s only for a moment.

Mbappé finally got up and took a deep breath. Argentina had just beaten the defending champion Les Blues in an epic World cup final via penalties after a 3-3 draw after extra time. And it was Mbappé who led a depleted France side to a game that seemed lost for most of regulation time.

Frenchman Kylian Mbappé looks dejected after the defending champions came up short in their bid for a repeat. (Photo by Michael Regan – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Down 2-0 going into the 80th minute, Mbappé scored twice in less than two minutes to force extra time. then after Lionel Messi heroically scored in the 109th minute to give Argentina a 3-2 lead, Mbappé responded with his third goal in the 118th minute to make it 3-3 and force penalties.

“We are back from the dead,” French coach Didier Deschamps said.

Highlights of Argentina-France

Highlights of Argentina-France

In an epic World Cup final, Lionel Messi won his long-awaited title, and France was denied its bid for back-to-back championships.

Mbappé became the first men’s player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final since England’s Geoff Hurst in 1966. Carli Lloyd did it in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final for the United States.

His goalscoring bravery brought his grand total of goals here in Qatar to eight, winning him the Golden Boot of the tournament. Mbappé has already scored 12 goals in 14 World Cup games, just like Pelé decades ago. Former German star Miroslav Klose holds the all-time record with 16, which Mbappé will almost certainly break. Probably in four years.

“It was a brilliant, magnificent performance,” Deschamps said of his star. “Kylian has really left his mark in this final. Unfortunately, he didn’t leave it the way he would have liked, so he was just as disappointed at the end of the match as the rest of his teammates.”

However, to know something about Mbappé is to understand that he doesn’t care about individual awards or glory. His performance on Sunday night, which was certainly good enough for France to win, was that of a player who adamantly refuses to give up.

Which was why, when he took the stage to receive the small golden soccer cleat-shaped scoring trophy, he didn’t smile. He had the same downcast, solemn expression when he and his teammates received their silver medals.

Earlier in the tournament, when France beat Poland in the round of 16 after Mbappé scored twice, he was asked what it would be like to finish top scorer. But he shook his head at the question and turned away.

“If I win, I’ll be happy, but that’s not why I’m here,” Mbappé said then. “I’m here to win the World Cup.”

France could not do that.

Messi’s fairy tale ending, Mbappé’s paris saint germain teammate, finally achieving the one thing that had eluded the living legend was too big to overcome.

The first 70 minutes of the game were a disaster for France. Argentina completely dominated and overwhelmed The Blues and even coming out of half time, it looked as if France were ready to give up.

Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni had his defense well organized and controlled France’s attack. By half time, Mbappé had just 11 touches and France had zero shots, on or off target. Every time Mbappé approached the ball, some combination of Nahuel Molina, Christian Romero Y Enzo Fernandez he was there to build pressure.

“Our players were 100% fit, maybe a little tight,” Deschamps said. “But that’s not an excuse. We didn’t show the same energy that we had in previous matches. That’s why our first hour or so we weren’t in the match.”

Then, in the 71st minute, Mbappé got his first shot. The ball flew over the crossbar, but it looked like something was brewing.

In the 80th minute, the Argentine defender Nicholas Otamendi committed an unnecessary offense in color randal in the frame. Mbappé converted the penalty to give France a boost.

Then, 97 seconds later, he scored again after a pass-and-out with Mark Thuram resulted in the 23-year-old striker volleying the ball past the keeper emiliano martinez in the lower right corner.

In extra time, France had the momentum. Argentina seemed nervous and briefly lost their composure. Messi committed a silly foul eduardo camavinga to start, and players on both sides were exhausted and a bit chipped.

Then Argentina had some opportunities. lautaro martinez had consecutive opportunities that the French captain saved without fear Hugo Lloris. The game became tighter and more stressful. Cameras showed French President Emmanuel Macron in a box with his sleeves rolled up.

In the 109th minute, Messi scored and most of the 88,966 fans roared. Martínez’s right foot from the right side of the area was saved by Lloris, but Messi caught the rebound and exploded his second goal of the game. Jules Konde he tried to save it, but the ball went over the goal line giving Argentina the lead.

Would Argentina hold on this time, or would France mount another comeback?

Mbappé assured the latter.

At minute 116, Gonzalo Montiel he had a hand in the box and Mbappé scored his third goal on the ensuing penalty kick.

“That changed things in the blink of an eye,” Deschamps said. “But it was not enough”.

Kylian Mbappé equalized it in minute 116

Kylian Mbappé equalized it in minute 116

Mbappé’s penalty kick eventually sent the game to a shootout, with France ending up coming up short.

Ultimately, the World Cup final came down to a penalty shootout with Argentina converting four penalties to France’s two.

The evening ended with Messi and his teammates hoisting the coveted trophy as their loyal fans, who outnumbered their French counterparts by tens of thousands and turned Lusail Stadium into a home advantage, waved their blue and white striped jerseys. over their heads. in an uncontrollable party

Early in the tournament, Deschamps said: “Kylian can make the difference on his own in a match.” He did everything he could, so much so that France deserved to win as much as Argentina. The Blues they wanted to make history and become the third team to win back-to-back World Cup titles.

However, the good thing for France is that Mbappé has many more World Cups ahead of him. This was only his second. The disappointment of him in Qatar will surely feed him, at least until 2026.

“It wasn’t meant to be,” Deschamps said before adding: “I’m not worried. I’m optimistic about the future.”

As France should be, thanks to Mbappé.

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Laken Litman covers college football, college basketball, and soccer for FOX Sports. She previously wrote for Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and The Indianapolis Star. She is the author of “Strong Like a Woman,” published in the spring of 2022 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX. Follow her on Twitter @laken litman.

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