Lionel Messi is the greatest of all time. The debate is over. In what can be considered the best World Cup final EVER, Messi showed who’s boss.
Argentina was cruising to a 2-0 lead from a Messi spot kick and an Angel Di Maria goal from a breathtaking counter attack and they just needed to keep the lead for 10 or so minutes when things unravelled.
It seemed like Argentina was going to run over the defending champions for most of the game. France looked lethargic.
Their star player Kylian Mbappe did not get a sniff of the ball until Argentine defender Nicolas Otamendi pulled French forward Randal Kolo Muani in the 80th minute. This gave France a penalty which Mbappe converted.
Nerves started creeping in for Argentina as they kept giving the ball away to France who at this point were jolted back to life after the Mbappe goal. He would score again within a minute after Messi lost the ball to substitute Kingsley Coleman.
It was an exquisite goal from Mbappe; a one touch half volley from a one two pass that did not have room for error. Game on, as France had the momentum at this point.
This had the hallmarks of another very painful loss for Argentina because they were so close to winning it in regulation time. It’s a good thing they held their breath and had a few chances of their own before the whistle blew.
The game eventually went to overtime and that’s where 30 minutes of the most nail biting moments in world cup history unfolded.
Messi scored first in the 108th minute in extra time from another counter attack. 12 more minutes and that golden trophy is theirs for the taking. But this game just had to have one more twist.
Argentine defender Gonzalo Montiel couldn’t keep his arms near his body as his elbow hit the ball from a shot that resulted in another penalty.
Kylian Mbappe converted another spot kick in the 118th minute which tied the game again at 3-3. This completed Mbappe’s hatrick which was only the second time it has ever been done in the history of the tournament.
There was one critical save by Emiliano Martinez at close range in the dying seconds that save the game for Argentina which led to the penalty shoot out.
Martinez played hero as he saved two attempts while Argentina did not miss a single penalty after Lionel Messi started proceedings.
After Gonzalo Montiel redeemed himself by coolly converting the Albiceleste’s 4th spot kick, the Lusail Stadium erupted and finally handed Argentina their 3rd star and the trophy the whole country and Lionel Messi ever wanted.
It took them 36 years to win another World Cup. And win they did which put Messi in the pantheon of football greats along with compatriot Maradona and the great Pele. This win just might have Messi edge them as the Greatest of all Time.
FIFA World Cup Awardees:
Lionel Messi – Best Player of the tournament
Emiliano Martinez – Best Goalkeeper
Enzo Fernandez – Best Young Player
Kylian Mbappe – Golden Boot Top Scorer
Argentina – Champion