France has won its second FIFA World Cup title after beating Croatia in a thrilling final in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
Didier Deschamps’ side repeated the success on home soil at France ’98 by a margin that hardly looked possible as Croatia stood toe-to-toe with the favorites for an hour.
France’s victory meant Didier Deschamps, who captained them 20 years ago, became just the third man to win the competition as a player and coach.
In one of the most exciting World Cup finals of the modern era, played out to a soundtrack of thunder, Croatia and France delivered an enthralling spectacle that brought the joint highest goal tally in a final since 1958, a pitch invasion, and a controversial intervention from the video assistant referee that had a huge influence on the outcome.
The French team took the lead after 18 minutes when Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick deflected in off Mario Mandzukic’s head – but Croatia were by far the better side in the first half and deservedly equalized courtesy of Ivan Perisic’s left-foot finish.
Croatians were left nursing a burning sense of injustice when France restored their lead seven minutes before half-time through Antoine Griezmann’s penalty, awarded by referee Nestor Pitana for handball against Ivan Perisic after a lengthy delay while VAR was consulted.
In a compelling second half, France looked to have wrapped it up with two strikes in six minutes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe either side of the hour mark.
Croatia showed unbreakable spirit and even threatened a comeback when Mario Mandzukic took advantage of France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris hesitating over a clearance to pull a goal back.
However, France closed out the win to bring redemption for Didier Deschamps after defeat at the Euros two years ago, sparking wild celebrations and ensuring Hugo Lloris lifted the World Cup.
France celebrated joyously at the final whistle after claiming the sport’s greatest trophy once more, with Didier Deschamps – the coach whose conservative methods have often brought criticism – tossed high into the air by his players.
Croatia return home as beaten World Cup finalists but their approach to this match will have won the hearts of neutrals and earned them a prolonged standing ovation from their fans at the final whistle.