What happened this morning?

France are champions of the world for a second time after an eventually deserved 4-2 win over Croatia in a gripping final and fitting finale to a brilliant World Cup.

Les Bleus opened the scoring through an 18th minute own-goal from Mario Mandzukic but Croatia hit back with a belting strike from Ivan Perisic.

France went to the break 2-1 ahead courtesy of an Antoine Griezmann spot-kick, before two goals in six minutes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe seemingly put the game beyond Croatia's reach.

Advertisement

A goalkeeping howler from Hugo Lloris presented Mandzukic with the chance to throw his side a lifeline, but France closed the game out to lift the trophy twenty years after first claiming it on home soil.

Heroes

France are worthy World Cup winners, having been consistently excellent and regularly superb at this tournament.

In N'Golo Kante, Raphael Varane and the exceptional Kylian Mbappe they've had three of the best players in Russia and with a support cast that is still relatively young, this could mark the start of a period of dominance from this French side.

But Croatia were worthy adversaries and belonged in the tournament's showpiece, fighting to the last despite having played an extra 90 minutes of football in the knockout stages and going into the final as clear underdogs.

Croatia's population is smaller than New Zealand's and while they fell short here, they've made history for their football-mad nation at this World Cup.

Villains

Mario Mandzukic scored the goal that took Croatia into the final and no doubt dreamed of finding the net in Moscow. He did, but unfortunately it was at the wrong end, giving France the early advantage with the first ever own-goal in a World Cup Final.

The free-kick from which the goal came was dubious, with Antoine Griezmann making the most of what appeared to be minimal contact before delivering the cross from which France opened the scoring.

French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has had a very good month, but his inexplicable brain explosion to hand Croatia a second goal won't be something he looks back on with great fondness.

And it seemed almost inevitable the VAR would have an impact in this game, with France's penalty only awarded after intervention from the World Cup's most controversial addition.

Stat chat

France trailed for just nine minutes and 12 seconds at the entire 2018 World Cup, while Croatia fell behind in all four of their knockout matches.

At 19 years 207 days, Kylian Mbappé became the youngest Frenchman and the third youngest player ever to appear in a World Cup final, after Pelé in 1958 (17y 249d) and Giuseppe Bergomi in 1982 (18y 201d). Mbappé's goal saw him join Pele as the only two teenaged World Cup final goalscorers.

France have never lost a game with both N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba in the starting eleven (19 games: W15 D4).

Didier Deschamps has taken part in four of France's six finals in major tournaments – the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 as a player and Euro 2016 and 2018 World Cup as manager.

There were 12 own goals scored at the tournament, double the tally of the previous highest in a World Cup, six in 1998.

This was the first World Cup final since 1974 in which there were three first-half goals.

Antoine Griezmann's penalty, timed at 37:56, was France's first shot of the match. France have never lost a game in which he has scored.

Ivan Perisic has now been involved in 11 goals at major tournaments for Croatia (seven goals, four assists), more than any other player.

They said what?
Gary Lineker, former England international: "Noooooooo!!!! Can't give that. Jeez VAR."

Alan Shearer, former England international: "It was all going too well! Ridiculous decision. NO NO NO VAR"

Robbie Fowler, former England international: "And whilst we're at it... it should never have been a free kick for the first goal."

Did you know?
Mario Mandzukic became the first player to score at both ends in a World Cup final.

What's next?
The 2018 World Cup is over, but don't worry – the 2022 tournament starts in just 1589 days.