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France win 4-2 thriller against Croatia to lift World Cup after 20 years

Deschamps, who captained the 1998 French side, became the third man to achieve the rare distinction of winning the cup both as player and coach

BS Web Team 

Croatia vs France final full-time report: It rained in Moscow today. First it was the goals, then the tears, and then the clouds opened and let down the rain, beneath it were a jumping, joyous bunch of Frenchmen who had just won the Fifa World Cup, their second in history. They danced and ran around the ground, waving the French flag. Not that they needed any help but the loudspeakers at the Luzhniki Stadium were on full blast, the tune -- Hans Zimmer's theme for Pirates of the Caribbean. There was another bunch, who were staring into the oblivion. The men in chequered jerseys -- the reds and whites. The Hans Zimmer music, the roaring fans, the drizzling, none of that mattered. Just like that, Croatia's captain had tears in his eyes.

You need a little bit of luck to win the World Cup. France had that in a good measure in Moscow on Sunday as they beat Croatia 4-2 to win their second-ever World Cup trophy. In a match otherwise evenly poised, it was an own-goal by Mario Mandzukic and a penalty that gave France an upper hand who sealed the match with two wonderful second-half strikes by and Ivan Perisic and Mandzukic scored for Croatia, but that proved to be insufficient in a high-scoring match, where the number of goals was highest since 1966, when England won 4-2 after extra time. France maybe deserve this title, but Croatia will also be well within their rights to complain that the luck was hard on them.
Les Bleus got a lucky start after Mario Mandzukic scored an own goal early in the first half. Eighteenth minute, to be precise. won a free-kick about 30 yards from goal. Griezmann's delivery into the box was met by Manzdzukic who rose the highest to get an unfortunate touch that ended up inside his own net. The goal came against the run of play as the Croats had dominated the proceedings in the starting minutes, so much so that France's goal was their first shot on goal.

Ivan Perisic levelled the scores in the 29th minute with a wonder strike with his left foot. Croatia's goal too came from a free-kick which France failed to clear. Perisic got the ball inside the box after some fine work by Vida and drilled his effort past  

However, Perisic the hero soon turned into Perisic the villain after France got a penalty in the 33th minute. France appealed for a handball by Persic inside the box. The referee took his time before consulting VAR and then pointing to the spot. Griezmann stood over the penalty and rolled his spot-kick past Danijel Subasic into the bottom left-hand corner to bring France into the front once again.

Croatia's Ante Rebic made a wonderful effort within three minutes after the restart when he was put through on goal by a wonderful pass from His rising shot from about 15 yards was tipped over the bar by Lloris. The French captain had to make another smart stop just minutes later. Croatia were pushing forward for the equaliser and were controlling the game, or so it seemed.

In the 59th minute, France scored their third, and like the first two goals, the viewers may complain that it shouldn't have been.
increases France’s lead, in a move he started and finished. His first shot from the edge of the area is blocked, but the ball breaks kindly for him and he scores at the second attempt with his left foot. In the 59th minute, Pogba charged upfield and passed the ball to Mbappe who returned it to Pogba inside the box. Pogba unleashed a shot only for it to be blocked but he got a second chance and, with the goalkeeper wrong-footed, he buried his shot into the left-hand corner with his weaker foot. 

With two goals down and just half an hour to go, it was frantic efforts from Croatia to get at least a goal back. But it backfired when became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since a certain player named Pele did it decades ago. The goal came in the 65th minute. Mbappe picked the possession of the ball from 25 yards and with little movement, sent a powerful low-drive into the bottom left-hand corner. The entire tournament, Croatia had been exceptional in the later half of the games, but try as they might, the Croats couldn't put the ball past Lloris, except on one occasion when Lloris' took one touch too many while fielding a back-pass. Mandzukic pounced on the opportunity and scored into the empty net from about four yards out.

When the final whistle blew, the French players bundled into each other. There were cries of joy. And Mbappe, that scurrying teenager who outran every defender, collected the best young player award moments later. France had been brilliant and Didier Deschamps, who has now won the World Cup as a player and a manager, tactically astute. They weren't always dominant, but they always knew how to win against every opponent, and they did that to the very end.

For every winner, there must be a loser. But Croatia and their journey in this campaign has been a win too. Modric had been the best player in the tournament, and Fifa recognised it by handing him the golden ball. He would have liked the other trophy better, of course. But then as they say, the best doesn't rest. Another time, Luka.


Min 88: 
Rakitic takes a long-range effort but the ball sails wide. Five minutes of stoppage time added. 

Min 87: 
France are just three minutes away from their second World Cup glory!

Min 81: Pjaca (in) comes off the bench to replace Strinic (out) (Croatia)

Min 81: Fekir (in) comes off the bench to replace Giroud (out) (France)

Min 77: WIDE!!!! Rakitic sends a grounder inches wide from the post. IT"S NOT OVER YET!

Min 73: 
Tolisso (in) comes off the bench to replace Matuidi (out) (France)

Min 71: Kramaric (in) comes off the bench to replace Rebic (out) (Croatia)

Min 69: GOALLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!! WHAT WAS LLORIS DOING??? MANDZUKIC SCORES!! 4-2!!!! The crazy theme of the game continues as Lloris attempts to play out from the back on his own goalline. He takes too long to pass the ball to Umtiti and allows Mandzukic to make the closing interception, steering the ball into the net. Lloris has given Croatia hope here. Whats next???

Min 65: Mbappe surely puts the game out of Croatia's reach. He takes Hernandez's offload from the left flank and controls it in the middle of the park. From 25 yards he lets fly with a low strike that Vida fails to block and it moves past Subasic before the keeper can get down. France are on their way to lifting the World Cup.

Min 65: GOAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!! Mbappe scores from a long-range effort! He becomes the second teenager to score at a World Cup Final after a 17-year old Pele scored in 1970.

Min 59: GOALLLL!!!!!! Pogba Scores with a left-footed effort!!!France 3 Croatia 1

Min 55: Strange substitution for France! Nzonzi (in) comes off the bench to replace Kante (out) 

Min 52: For the first time in the tournament there's a stoppage due to a pitch invasion. Both the people are quickly removed and action resumes.

Min 51:Mbappe comes down the right dangerously and takes a shot but is saved by Subasic

Min 49:  Another corner for Croatia. The croats look really promising on the pitch but have to put in a goal in order to keep their hopes alive. 

Trivia: The only team to win a World Cup final having been trailing at half-time was Uruguay against Argentina, in the first ever showpiece in 1930.

Min 47:Rebic takes a dangerous shot towards the goal but Lloris sends it over the top bar for a corner.

France 2 Croatia 1: Here are the pictures of the goals

Second Half of kicks off!

France lead 2-1 against Croatia in the final in Moscow, courtesy a VAR-consulted penalty by  

Les Bleus got a lucky start after Mario Mandzukic scored an own goal early in the first half. Eighteenth minute, to be precise. won a free-kick about 30 yards from goal. Griezmann's delivery into the box was met by Manzdzukic who rose the highest to get an unfortunate touch that ended up inside his own net.  The goal came against the run of play as the Croats had dominated the proceedings in the starting minutes, so much so that France's goal was their first shot on goal.

Ivan Perisic levelled the scores in the 29th minute with a wonder strike with his left foot. Croatia's goal too came from a free-kick which France failed to clear. Perisic got the ball inside the box after some fine work by Vida and drilled his effort past Lloris. 

However, the hero Perisic soon turned into a villian after France got a penalty in the 33th minute. France appealed for a handball by Persic inside the box. The referee took his time before consulting VAR and then pointing to the spot. Griezmann stood over the penalty and rolled his spot-kick past Danijel Subasic into the bottom left-hand corner to bring France into the front once again.

Contrary to their form in this World Cup, Croatia started the game brilliantly but the unfortunate first goal may be put on a dent in their performance. They have tried to pull themselves up, but lagging after half-time due to an own-goal and a penalty must be demoralising for the Croats. There's an entire half to be played though and the Croats have been superb in the late part of the games in this tournament. They will need to repeat the trick in Moscow one last time.


Min 45: 
Vida heads wide from a corner. Three minutes of stoppage time added!

Min 41: 
Hernandez (France) is booked by the referee.

Min 36: Griezmann stood on the ball and he had to get past Subasic, the man who had already saved 3 penalties!!! He puts it through! AN HISTORIC GOAL!

Min 32: 
Griezmann's corner is met with the hands of Perisic.The referee goes for VAR. First VAR moment! It's PENALTY for France!!!!!! 

Min 29: A super strike from Perisic levels the score. France failed to clear the danger from the resulting free-kick as Manzukic then Vida knocked the ball towards the winger. He took time and space to pick his spot on his left foot before drilling his effort past Lloris. A special effort from Perisic. 

Min 29: GOAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Perisic equalises!!!!!!!!

Min 27:
Kante is booked by the referee after he fouls an advancing Perisic in the middle of the park.

Min 24: France slowly finding a foothold in the game but Croatia still control 59% ball possession.

Trivia: Mandzukic becomes the first player to score an own goal in a World Cup Final match

Min 18: GOALLLLLL!!!!!! Griezmann's freekick finds the back of the net after getting a slight deflection from Mario Mandzukic! 12th own goal of the tournament!

Min 17: 
France secure a freekick in a great position in their first attempt to raid Croatia's defence.

Min 15: France need to take stock and figure a plan to get their key men into the game. Griezmann and Mbappe have barely touched the ball in the early stages of the contest.

Min 14: Perisic raids down the left flank but he fails to find Mandzukic as Umtiti does brilliantly to get back to make the closing challenge. Pavard looks vulnerable.

Min 11: Perisic gets the ball in a dangerous position but fails to receive it properly and the ball goes out.

Min 8: Rakitic puts in a centre for Mandzukic but the striker fails to connect and is cleared by the French defence.

Min 5: The initial five minutes have been dominated by Croatia as the French players lie deep into the defence. 

Min 4: 
Vrasljko puts in a cross from the right but the attack is nullified by the French defence.

Min 2: France earn the first freekick of the night. The match is happening from box to box but Croatia look more promising on their attacks.

Peeeeeeeeeeeeppppp! And.. we begin.

Steely look of focus in Modric's eyes. There's a similar look on the face of as the prepare line up in the tunnel. The players walk out of the tunnel to the battlefield.

Nicky Jam, Era Istrefi, and put up a show .. at least that's what they tried to do. Nothing remarkable there though.

The have begun for the closing ceremony!!

Trivia: France have trailed for just nine minutes and 12 seconds at the 2018 World Cup, while Croatia have been behind in all three of their knockout matches so far.

Trivia: Ivan Perisic has been involved in 10 goals at major tournaments for Croatia (6 goals, 4 assists), the joint-most along with Davor Suker (9 goals, 1 assist). Importance. 

Trivia: Kylian Mbappe (19y 207d) will become the youngest Frenchman and the third youngest player overall to appear in a World Cup final, after Pele in 1958 (17y 249d) and Giuseppe Bergomi in 1982 (18y 201d).

Trivia: Antoine Griezmann has scored or assisted 11 goals in nine knockout games at major tournaments (World Cup & Euro); more than any other player for France over the last 50 years, ahead of Zinedine Zidane (8) and Michel Platini (6).

Line-ups out: Both the teams remain unchanged, with less than an hour to go until kick-off, there are no major surprises as both managers go with their tried and trusted first choice team.

Croatian team warm up for the final
CROATIA (4-2-3-1): Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic; Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic; Mario Mandzukic.

Croatia subs: Dominik Livakovic, Vedran Corluka, Mateo Kovacic, Andrej Kramaric, Lovre Kalinic, Tin Jedvaj, Filip Bradaric, Duje Caleta-Car, Milan Badelj, Marko Pjaca, Josip Pivaric.

French team warm up for the final
FRANCE (4-2-3-1): Hugo Lloris; Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Hernandez; N'Golo Kante, Paul Pogba; Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi; Olivier Giroud.

France subs: Prensel Kimpembe, Thomas Lemar, Ousmane Dembele, Corentin Tolisso, Steven N'Zonzi, Steve Mandanda, Adil Rami, Nabil Fekir, Djibril Sidibe, Florian Thauvin, Benjamin Mendy, Alphonse Areola.

France vs Croatia line-up
France vs Croatia line-up

The trophy has arrived at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium!

The title clash refreshes memory of their 1998 semi-final when two near-identical second-half strikes by right-back Liliam Thuram propelled France to their first final before they went on to overwhelm defending champions and South American powerhouse Brazil.

This time, however, Zlatko Dalic-coached Croatia have a squad capable of going all the way. Just like the Davor Suker-captained batch of 1998, this Croatian side has a similar never-say-die attitude, coupled with talent from the best clubs all over Europe.

Football fans from all over the world have geared up before the epic final. 

Photo: Reuters
The build-up to the Final:

Croatia defender Vida escapes FIFA sanctions for yelling 'Glory to Ukraine'

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has ruled that Croatian defender Domagoj Vida would not be sanctioned following the investigation of the second video, in which he is seen holding what looks like a bottle of beer and yelling "Glory to Ukraine!" and ""Burn, Belgrade" in Croatian.

Last week, social media saw Vida chanting "Glory to Ukraine!" together with former Croatia national team member Ognjen Vukojevic saying "This is a victory for Dynamo Kiev and Ukraine!" in the wake of Croatia's hard-earned victory against hosts Russia in the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals, reports Sputnik news agency.

After the video went viral on Instagram, Vida told reporters that he didn't intend to "draw politics into sport", and that it was a "joke".

Upon learning about the footage, FIFA launched an investigation, with the Disciplinary Committee issuing a warning to Vida, who eventually escaped a ban from the World Cup semi-finals.

"After thoroughly analyzing the second video of the Croatian player Domagoj Vida that appeared in the media and having considered the player's submission, the chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee ascertained that it was recorded before the initial sanction imposed in Vida and has concluded that no additional infringement of the FIFA regulations has been committed," FIFA said in a statement, tweeted by BBC journalist Richard Conway.

Following a massive backlash, boos and whistles from fans during the game with England, Vida apologized for the clip, admitting that he had made a "mistake".

Vukojevic was suspended from his duties as assistant coach by the Croatian Football Federation and slapped with a $15,000 fine from FIFA.

Deschamps role

France have, at least on paper, a squad loaded with talent and more depth. In Didier Deschamps, they have a coach who has the previous experience of winning the World Cup as a player.

Deschamps, who captained the 1998 French side, has a chance to achieve the rare distinction of becoming only the third man, in history -- after Brazil's Mario Zagallo and German legend Franz Beckenbauer -- to win the World Cup both as a player and a head coach.

Didier Deschamps

Deschamps' side drew one group game (against Denmark), but their Wo
rld Cup has been one of constant progression, built around goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, central defenders Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti and midfielders, N'golo Kante and They have helped France overcome Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium on to their way to the final.

Since their first game against Australia, Deschamps brought in striker Olivier Giroud to provide a focal point in attack as it allowed Atletico Madrid playmaker Antoine Griezmann to play in the central attacking space.

Squad depth

Add to that the pace of teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, who will also drop back to help in the middle on the right flank, on the left, and France seem like a team without any apparent weaknesses.

Full-backs Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard have done well to push forward and exploit spaces with the help of their wingers.

Croatia's resilience

To combat France, Croatia have a compact side known for hard work, stubbornness and adaptability. Croatia have had an impressive campaign at this World Cup. They topped an extremely difficult group that included perennial title contenders Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria.

They endured a gruelling route to the final and they were stretched to the limit during all three of their knockout round victories. Against Denmark and Russia, they prevailed via penalty shootouts, while in the semi-final against England, they started poorly conceding the first goal within five minutes before winning in extra-time.

Fifa World Cup 2018: Photographer becomes part of Croatia goal celebration

They will need every bit of that resilience against the talented French. Croatia have achieved a land
mark of sorts, having become the country with the second lowest population to reach the final.

In and Ivan Rakitic, Croatia have arguably the best midfield in Russia and the presence of star strikers Mario Mandzukic and Ante Rebic add some added force upfront.

Modric and Rakitic have also been protecting central defenders Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida, who stand in front of experienced AS Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

Left-back Ivan Strinic and right-back Sime Vrsaljko are almost certain to start.

Rebic, along with Andrej Kramaric and Ivan Perisic may feature ahead of the midfield trio of Modric, Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic.

Croatia have an experienced squad and will go into the match with the belief of going the distance.

Russia's Putin among leaders to attend World Cup final

Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the World Cup final between France and Croatia, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Putin will be joined by several world leaders, including France's Emmanuel Macron, Croatian Prime Minister Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar, where sport's largest event will next be held in 2022.

Non-political guests will include 100-metre world record holder Usain Bolt and Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.

Beset by delays in finishing stadiums and infrastructure in the build up to the tournament -- and amid fears of the type of racism or hooliganism that has plagued the Russian game in recent decades -- the World Cup is roundly being viewed as a huge success for Russia.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino, whose organisation has been dogged by allegations of corruption and impropriety, said Friday that Russia 2018 had been the "best World Cup ever", adding that the whole world "fell in love with Russia" for hosting the tournament.

France squad
Mbappe not given 'special status' in France team, says coach Deschamps

France head coach Didier Deschamps says that teenage forward does not receive any special treatment in the team despite his status as an emerging superstar.

The 19-year-old has been a pivotal part of the France World Cup team that will meet Croatia in Sunday's final at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. He has scored three goals in the tournament so far while causing havoc for opposition defences with his speed and trickery, reports Xinhua news agency.

"Kylian (Mbappe) is a hugely talented young player," Deschamps told reporters on Saturday. "He has proved it once again at the World Cup, but I don't have a special relationship with him. He's one of our players who does the same job as the others do. He doesn't have a special status... I pay more attention to the young players. Kylian is a very smart guy who knows what he wants."

Meanwhile, Deschamps has urged his players to keep a cool head during the match, in which France will bid to win football's most coveted trophy for a second time.

"We know that this is the World Cup, and that we're playing in the final tomorrow," he said. "All my staff are focused on preparing the team in the best possible way. We need to analyze everything... We're not euphoric.

"Yes, we feel satisfied to reach the final. The result [of the match] will show if we did everything right.... If something isn't in our favor tomorrow, it'll be bad."

Here is the 23 member full squad of the France National team:

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Steve Mandanda, Alphonse Areola.

Defenders: Layvin Kurzawa, Benjamin Mendy, Samuel Umtiti, Raphaël Varane, Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard, Adil Rami, Djibril Sidibé

Midfielders: Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi, Corentin Tolisso, N'Golo Kante, Steven Nzonzi.

Forwards: Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Florian Thauvin, Thomas Lemar, Nabil Fekir.

France will first battle it out with Australia on 16 June, followed by matches with Peru and Denmark.

Here is the 23-member squad of Croatia:

Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic, Lovre Kalinic, Dominik Livakovic

Defenders: Vedran Corluka, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic, Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko, Josip Pivaric, Tin Jedvaj, Duje Caleta-Car

Midfielders: Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic, Milan Badelj, Marcelo Brozovic, Filip Bradaric

Forwards: Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic, Nikola Kalinic, Andrej Kramaric, Marko Pjaca, Ante Rebic

When and where to watch the final

Match Date: July 15, Sunday

Fifa World Cup 2018 final: France vs Croatia

Match Time: 8:30 pm (IST), 5:00 pm (France Time), 5:00 pm (Croatia Time)

Match Venue: Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow


First Published: Sun, July 15 2018. 15:00 IST