Do any of us even fully understand what we just saw?
In what may be remembered as the greatest soccer match ever played—given the stakes, maybe the greatest sporting event ever contested, period—Argentina won the World Cup, beating France 4-2 on penalties after the match finished tied at three apiece in extra time.
There was something fitting about the hat trick from the most ascendant young star in the game, Kylian Mbappé, only being bested by the greatest player to ever step foot on a football pitch, Lionel Messi, and the brace he provided.
The enduring memory of the contest will be Messi and Argentina's triumph. But football Twitter was nonetheless stunned by the brilliance of Mbappé, even in defeat, with many heartbroken on behalf of the French superstar:
Farid Khan @_FaridKhan
Appreciation tweet for Kylian Mbappe! He scored a World Cup final hat-trick and yet ended up on the losing side. What a player and he's only 23 years old ❤️ <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FIFAWorldCup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FIFAWorldCup</a> <a href="https://t.co/VOTzSfqW7V">pic.twitter.com/VOTzSfqW7V</a>
Neither team deserved to lose. At various points, it seemed both sides were in full control.
Most of regulation belonged to Argentina, as the country took a 2-0 first-half lead and seemed in complete control of the proceedings. France didn't get off so much as a shot until the 71st minute.
But then there was Mbappé. In a brilliant, breathless 97 seconds, he turned the match on its head with the sort of heroics that only a superstar can muster.
To extra time we would go.
And yet again Messi—doing everything in his power to earn his country its first World Cup title since Diego Maradona's heroics in 1986—conjured up the magical moment, slotting home a goal after a fortuitous rebound.
"Anything you can do, I can do better," came the reply from Mbappé just 10 minutes later, as he scored from the spot for a second time to pull France even one last time.
And so extra time drained away and both teams prepared for the cruelest form of finality in sports, the penalty shootout. Messi and Mbappé stepped up first and, to the surprise of no one, both scored.
The superstars had done their part. Now, their fates rested on the composure—or lack thereof—of their respective countrymen. Messi's teammates met the moment, and World Cup glory was finally his.
But nobody will forget the performance of a 23-year-old Mbappé in his second World Cup final. Only the greatest player to ever live could keep him and France from repeating as champions.