Congratulations to France who today have won the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia after defeating Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. It was a thrilling final to a thrilling competition, which in my opinion has been the best World Cup of all time. Here is my match report:
France remained unchanged from their semi-final match against Belgium, as did Croatia. The first 18 minutes were dominated by Croatia, but the French took the lead through a huge slice of luck as Mario Mandzukic inadvertently headed the ball into his own net from Antoine Griezmann’s free kick. After another ten minutes of Croatia pressure they equalised when Ivan Perisic collected the ball from a corner on the edge of the box, weaved past N’Golo Kante and then fired the ball with his left foot past Hugo Lloris to give the Croats what they deserved. However, 10 minutes later a Griezmann corner hit the hand of Perisic and after a VAR review a penalty was (in my opinion) correctly awarded. I think it was a penalty because his hand moved towards the ball rather than the other way round. Griezmann duly slotted home the spot kick to undeservedly give the French a half time lead. The Croatian pressure continued after the break, but they couldn’t get through the resolute France defence with Les Bleus always looking threatening on counter attacks. In the 59th minute Paul Pogba got the ball on the edge of the Croatia box and hit a shot that was blocked before curling a beauty past Danijel Subasic to double the France lead, although the goalkeeper would have saved it if he wasn’t wrong-footed. Six minutes later it was game, set and tournament when Kylian Mbappe became the first teenager since Pele to score in a World Cup Final with a wonderful long range effort into the bottom left corner. I am sure he will be the best player in the world for some time to come. Mario Mandzukic tackled the ball into the net off Hugo Lloris after a terrible mistake by the Frenchman allowed Croatia back into the game, but it wasn’t anywhere near enough to win the trophy as France defended excellently for the remaining twenty minutes. I believe that Croatia deserved to win this match, but that France were better throughout the tournament. However, I think Belgium were the best team in the World Cup and would have been worthy winners of the famous trophy.
After the game, Kylian Mbappe won best young player, Luka Modric won the Golden Ball, Thibaut Courtois won the Golden Glove and Harry Kane won the Golden Boot. The BBC’s Goal of the Tournament went to Nacer Chadli for his tap-in to win the game for Belgium against Japan after an unbelievable counter-attack.
I will see you tomorrow where I will announce the Football Centred Team of the World Cup, as voted for by the general public in my votes on @footballcentred on twitter. Go over and vote now! Bye!