by Adetayo Adesola
France have emerged World Cup champions for the second time in their history after a convincing 4-2 victory in their final tie against Croatia in Moscow. The game was slightly closer than the scoreline indicated but France were able to convert all their chances and Croatia were slightly unlucky at key moments in the game. France were crowned World Cup champions exactly 20 years ago on home soil at the Stade de France in Paris. Two headed goals from Zinedine Zidane and a goal from Emmanuel Petit secured the first title for the Les Blues in a 3-0 victory over Brazil
The first half was perhaps the most exciting first half display in the World Cup final in recent memory. Croatia looked more assertive on the ball and looked like they could really hurt France. However, France drew first blood from an Antoine Greizmann freekick that forced Mario Mandzukic to head in an own goal in the 18th-minute. Croatia got level exactly 10 minutes after when Ivan Perisic arrowed a left-footed stunner pass Hugo Lloris in the 28thminute. Then came the moment of great controversy when Ivan Perisic was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box by Argentine referee, Nestor Pitana with the help of the VAR. Antoine Greizmann converted the resulting penalty to give France the lead 2-1 in the 38th-minute.
France seemed to repeat their game plan against Belgium by sitting deep and catching Croatia on the counter-attack. That was exactly what they did as Paul Pogba drilled in a left-footed shot to extend France’s lead to 3-1 in the 59th-minute. Kylian Mbappe added more salt to Croatia’s bruises with a stunning strike from the Golden boy in the 65th-minute to make it 4-1.
Hugo Lloris had a brain-freeze in the 69th-minute when he allowed Mario Mandzukic pounce on a loose ball to make the scoreline 4-2. It was certainly a bizarre World Cup finals with six goals – very uncharacteristic of final games that are usually very tight and cagey. Danijel Subasic, in my opinion, was extremely poor and hardly dived for any of the French goals. A very bad day to have a night off for his country.