LUSAIL, QATAR — The 2022 World Cup final started out as a one-sided affair that looked like it was on its way to being an uneventful crowning of Lionel Messi as world champion.
Argentina did wind up lifting the World Cup, but not before an epic France comeback in a match that turned into the most dramatic and thrilling final in the history of the competition.
France erased a 2-0 deficit with a pair of Kylian Mbappe, then responded to a potential Lionel Messi winner in extra time with an Mbappe penalty, but the French couldn’t deny Argentina in the penalty shootout as Messi and the Albiceleste rose to the occasion one more time.
Argentina converted all four penalties while France missed two attempts, setting up Gonzalo Montiel’s chance for redemption after his penalty handball tied the match at 3-3. Montiel converted his penalty to deliver Argentina its first World Cup since 1986, setting off wild celebrations in a Lusail Stadium filled with Argentina fans.
The victory gave Lionel Messi his coveted World Cup on a night when he delivered a performance worthy of a champion. Messi scored Argentina’s opening goal from the penalty spot, and the go-ahead goal in extra time before stepping up and calmly converting Argentina’s opening shootout attempt after Mbappe converted his attempt for France.
Emiliano Martinez played the shootout hero for Argentina once more, denying Kingsley Coman’s attempt in the second round before Paulo Dybala converted for Argentina. Aurelien Tchouameni missed France’s third attempt before Leandro Paredes converted for Argentina.
Randal Kolo-Muani converted France’s fourth attempt, setting up Montiel’s chance for redemption. The Sevilla defender beat Lloris with his attempt to secure Argentina’s third World Cup title.
The penalty shootout followed a wild 120 minutes that saw France battle back from 2-0 and 3-2 down after Argentina enjoyed a dominant first half. Messi converted a 23rd-minute penalty earned by Angel DiMaria in the 23rd minute before DiMaria scored a goal of his own in the 36th minute, capping off a beautiful counterattack sequence for the South Americans.
France looked flat and Didier Deschamps acted, inserting Marcus Thuram and Kolo-Muani in the 41st minute. The French began to show life in the second half after Eduardo Camavinga and Kingsley Coman came on in the 71st minute. Their insertion helped give France energy and the speed to put Argentina under pressure.
The changes paid off for Les Bleus in the 80th minute, when Kolo-Muani drew a penalty foul by Nicolas Otamendi to set up an Mbappe penalty kick, which he blasted home.
Just one minute later, Coman forced a Messi turnover and sparked a quick counter, with Adrien Rabiot finding Mbappe in the penalty area. He blasted home the game-tying goal to make the score 2-2 in the 81st minute.
The match went to extra-time, where Messi delivered yet again, pouncing on a rebound of a saved Lautaro Martinez shot in the 108th minute for his seventh goal of the tournament, making the score 3-2.
Argentina held on desperately to that lead, but it only lasted 10 minutes, when Montiel was whistled for a handball in the penalty area. Mbappe stepped up to the spot and scored his eight goal of the tournament, which eventually helped him secure the World Cup Golden Boot.
Unfortunately for Mbappe, his hat-trick wasn’t enough to earn France a third World Cup, and it was instead his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Messi who was able to realize his World Cup dream.