By John Kayode
Argentina has won their first World Cup in 36 years and some months after defeating France 4-2 (3–3 after extra time) in a penalty shoot-out to win the World Cup for the third time in Qatar on Sunday.
The match ended 2-2 after 90 minutes but Lionel Messi poked in a goal to put Argentina 3-2 ahead in the 108th minute before Kylian Mbappe completed his hat-trick two minutes before the end of extra-time.
This is Argentina’s third World Cup trophy from six final appearances in history after defeating defending champions France to win the biggest prize in men’s football – with the legend himself getting on the scoresheet twice.
Argentina last won the World Cup in 1978 and 1986 and lost in the final three times, but Messi has finally broken the jinx in Qatar.
In a match dominated by attention on Messi and Kylian Mbappé of France, it was Messi’s experience that ruled the day.
Mbappé also netted twice in two minutes late in the second half to force extra time, before completing a World Cup Final hat-trick in the extra period to force the shoot-out.
Mbappé became just the second man in World Cup history to score a hat-trick in the final after Geoff Hurst in 1966 and won the Golden Boot for top goalscorer (8 goals), but ended up on the losing end.
Messi’s double saw him finish the tournament with seven goals and signed off from his World Cup career with a medal.
En route to the final, Lionel Scaloni’s men recovered quickly from their shocking 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening group game before bouncing back, to beat Mexico 2-0 and Poland 2-0 and top Group C.
A 2-1 win over Australia in the round of 16, survived a penalty shootout against the Netherlands and thrashed 2018 runners-up Croatia 3-0 in the semi-final to reach the final.
It’s been a remarkable World Cup campaign so far for Argentina and Messi.
Messi has now scored 26 goals in major international tournaments for Argentina with 13 World Cup goals, and 13 Copa América goals, to become the most of any South American player in history across the two competitions, overtaking Ronaldo who had 25 goals.