In one of the most thrilling World Cup finals ever, Messi scored twice for Argentina while Kylian Mbappé scored a hat trick for France, though their team’s comeback attempt ultimately fell short.
Lionel Messi had to wait a long time for his chance to win a World Cup final. Despite his successful career and his role in helping Argentina’s soccer team defeat France in this year’s final, he ultimately fell short in the end. The match went into extra time before Argentina emerged victorious.
After a 2-2 tie in regulation time, the two squads headed into extra time. Both teams battled throughout the first 15-minute period, but ultimately came into the second period at a standstill. Finally, in the 108th minute, Messi slotted in a rebounded shot from Argentina striker Lautaro Martinez.
The Argentina goal came with just 12 minutes left in the game, but France continued to battle back.
With just five minutes left in the historic match, French winger Kingsley Coman whipped in a corner from the right corner. The ball bounced around the box until it again found Mbappe’s feet. The 23 year old attempted to smash the ball into the top right corner of Argentina’s goal, but a handball deflection from veteran Argentine defender Nicolas Ottamendi saw France be awarded a controversial penalty.
Mbappe slotted the ball into the bottom left corner of the net, and the game once again entered a brutal standstill. He flared his arms and ran towards the left corner of the field, with the French players in quick pursuit.
As the final whistle of extra time came, players and fans around the world sighed and new that the World Cup final would come down to penalty kicks for only the thrid time in history.
France’s captain and goalie Hugo Lloris won the coin toss against Messi and elected to shoot first. Mbappe took a deep breath and narrowly slotted the ball passed Argentina’s goalie and eventual Golden Glove winner of the tournament Emiliano Martinez.
Messi reciprocated the energy of France’s penalty, fooling Lloris as he magnificently placed the ball in the bottom left corner. Both teams were tied at 1 in the penalties, but Emi Martinez was about to make one of the most important saves of his entire career.
Koman stepped up to take France’s second penalty. The Bayern Munich winger stepped back, took a deep breath, and hopped for the best. Martinez, in an expert show of skill, perfectly read Koman’s body language and saved the shot. Martinez jumped up and pumped his fist while millions of Argentines, including myself, screamed of excitement.
Argentina’s Paulo Dybala, who subbed onto the field in the final minutes of the match, took Argentina’s second penalty. The left-footer fooled Lloris and calmly placed the penalty down the middle.
French defensive midfielder Aurélien Tchouameni stepped up to the ball with a momentous amount of pressure mounting. A wall of blue and white Argentine fans eclipsed his entire field of view as Martine stretched his arms out wide. Tchouameni went for the finesse shot in the bottom left corner but ultimaltey put it just wide of the post.
Juventus defensive midfielder and teammate of Argentine veterans Di Maria and Paulo Dybala, Leandro Paredes, calmly approached the ball and sent the ball to the left corner, a seemingly recurring placement for this penalty shootout. Lloris made a valiant effort at the ball but pushed it just passed him. Argentina needed just one more goal to be World Cup Champions.
French forward Randal Kolo Muani stepped up for France’s fourth penally shot. With the pressure of an entire stadium and 4 billion people watching on the television, Muani hammered the ball down the center of the goal. Regardless, if Argentina made their next penalty, they would be world champions.
With the world watching, up stepped Argentine right-back Gonzalo Montiel. To win the World Cup and be champions for the first time in 36 years, Montiel would have to make this shot. The stadium ran quiet as Montiel took his approach to the ball. In his first-ever World Cup and the biggest penalty of his life, Montiel hit the ball into the left corner of the goal.
The Argentine fans went electric as Messi had completed his ultimate dream. The Argentina team rejoiced and screamed shouts of pure excitement, while the French players looked on in awe. Montiel, overcome by emotions, took his shirt off and began to sob into his jersey as Lautaro Martinez embraced him.
The Argentine team embraced and awaited the awards ceremony, closing off the best World Cup final ever.
As an Argentine fan myself, this has to be the greatest moment of my life. Thank you to Messi and the rest of the team for their constant determination and ability to overcome all odds! This is quite possibly the best ending to Messi’s historic career and watching the highlights of this tournament in the future will bring many fans, including myself, to tears.