The 88,966 fútbol fans in Lusail Stadium in Qatar went wild Sunday night (December 18) as Argentina and France faced off in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Finals.
When the match was finally over, it was Argentina who cemented its name in the history books with its hard-fought victory over the defending World Cup champions, 3-3 (4-2 in penalty kicks). The win marked Lionel Messi’s first World Cup Finals victory in his illustrious career.
Lionel Messi scored first on a penalty kick in the 22nd minute of the first half to make it 1-0 Argentina. It was Messi’s 12th career World Cup goal.
Argentina’s second goal came in minute 35 of the first half in an incredible run across the field that ended with Ángel Di María scoring his third career goal in World Cup play to give his team a 2-0 lead before the half. France’s Kylian Mbappé only had 11 touches in the first half.
The match was far from over, however. France came back in the second half with its own successful penalty kick by Mbappé, making the score 2-1.
The goal woke up the monster in Mbappé, who proved he was the future of the sport when he scored again, only one and a half minutes after his penalty kick, to turn all the momentum to France and tie it up 2-2.
Both teams slowed the game down during the first half of extra time and avoided any major mistakes. Argentina had a couple of chances at the end of the first 15-minute period but could not score.
In the second half of extra time, Messi found a way to push his team ahead again when he scored his second goal of the match, and 13th career World Cup goal, to give Argentina a 3-2 lead.
Mbappé wasn’t about to surrender. He completed a hat trick for the match when he scored a penalty kick after Argentina was called for a handball. The game ended 3-3 and went into a penalty shootout for only the third time in World Cup Finals history.
In the shootout, France started with Mbappé scoring the first penalty kick. Messi then stepped up and followed suit with his own penalty goal. Argentina goalie Emiliano Martínez then blocked France’s Kingsley Coman. Argentina’s Paulo Dybala scored to put Argentina up 2-1.
Then, France’s Aurelien Tchouameni kicked it wide, and Argentina’s Leandro Paredes scored to give Argentina a strong 3-1 lead. France’s Randal Kolo kept his team’s chances alive, making the next goal, but Argentina’s Gonzalo Montiel ended the match with a final goal for the 4-2 victory in the shootout.
Did we just witness the greatest FIFA World Cup Finals in the history of the tournament?
If we know anything, it’s that Messi has proven that the debate about whether he is the best fútbol player in the game’s history has just swung his way – with authority.