World Cup Final Results 2018: Top Highlights, Stats and Man of the Match

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2018

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 15:  Kylian Mbappe of France celebrates with team mates after scoring his team's fourth goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Twenty years after winning their first World Cup title, France added a second.  

Les Bleus defeated Croatia, 4-2, in a wild affair Sunday that saw its share of controversial calls, a Mario Mandzukic own goal, intermittent thunder and lightning, a pitch invasion in the second half and an unthinkable gaffe by French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. 

When the dust settled, however, France were victorious behind goals from Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba. Griezmann took home Man of the Match honors.

Statistically, Croatia looked like the better side. They dominated possession (61 percent) and had more overall shots (15-8), though France held the advantage in shots on goal (6-3), per FIFA World Cup. Croatia also held a sizable advantage in corners (6-2).

The Croatians will also feel they got the short end of the stick on a few calls. France's first goal came after Griezmann went down outside of the box, and it appeared he may have been guilty of simulation, as he looked to be heading to the ground before any contact.

Regardless, he was awarded a free-kick, though his swinging effort into the box didn't find any of his teammates. It did find Mandzukic's head for the game's first goal, howeveran error that would set the tone of a match that might be best described as a beautiful, memorable mess. 

After Croatia leveled on an Ivan Perisic screamer, controversy struck again.

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Ivan Perisic equalizes! His shot takes a slight deflection past Lloris to make it 1-1. https://t.co/D2eayynKUN

This time, VAR was utilized after Perisic struck an incoming corner with his arm, which appeared to be in an unnatural position as he leapt in the air. That contact blocked the ball from crossing the face of goal, and head official Nestor Pitana judged it to be a penalty after consulting the replay booth. 

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Take another look at that penalty decision. Was it the right call? https://t.co/sA81AB9thu

Griezmann promptly converted from the spot, and suffice to say, there were split opinions on the call. 

Oliver Holt @OllieHolt22

It'll be called a VAR controversy but it isn't. Referee took advantage of replays and bought himself more time. Made an informed decision. I think he got it wrong but it's about him not VAR

Andy Kelly @AndyK_LivNews

That's a referee making a terrible decision. VAR only reinforced that he shouldn't be giving it.

Velvet Glockman @AndyGlockner

Seeing more replays, I'm changing my mind on the penalty. That looks a lot more like hand to ball to knock down the cross.

NFL Philosophy @NFLosophy

While I get the sentiment here, the rule is setup to allow accidental touches as long as hands are tucked to the body. Hands out is a penalty. Eliminates as much “luck” as possible but can’t eliminate all luck from sports. https://t.co/uvk6WlNSNK

Jonathan Northcroft @JNorthcroft

Going to disagree with a lot of people here. That was a penalty. He moved his hand towards the ball. We might not like it, it might be cheap, but that is nearly always going to be a penalty. Also, France have not "been dreadful." France are doing what France do.

That decision will certainly be talked about for a very long time.

France left little doubt in the second half, however, as Pogba and Mbappe scored superb goals to give France a 4-1 lead. 

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Pogba puts France up 3-1! https://t.co/GGbqabnvmo

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Kylian Mbappé gets in on the action! The 19-year-old becomes the first teenager to score in a FIFA World Cup final since Pelé. https://t.co/4fqjCSWJL0

Lloris would give one back with a head-scratching error, as he tried to dribble past Mandzukic and instead watched in horror as his hubris was met with the outstretched leg of the Croatian striker, who ricocheted the ball into the side netting.

His embarrassment would be erased 20 minutes later as France were crowned champions.

The final result was a bit harsh on a Croatian side that acquitted themselves well in the final and certainly were one of the best stories in the tournament, winning three consecutive matches over Denmark, Russia and England in penalties to reach the final. There's an argument to be made that Luka Modric was the best player in the tournament, while players like Ivan Rakitic, Perisic and Mandzukic, among others, were excellent.

But France's full talent was on display Sunday, as it has been throughout this tournament. The French side displayed no glaring weaknesses. Their football was not always the most inspired or intrepid, but it was steady. Mbappe emerged as the greatest young talent in the sport. Griezmann justified his reputation as one of the sport's top players. Midfielders like Pogba and N'Golo Kante controlled the play. The back line stifled their opponents. 

Top to bottom, France were the best team in this tournament. Even in a bizarre final with its share of controversy, they deserved to win. 


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