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Lionel Messi fulfills destiny as Argentina prevail on penalties in Best. World. Cup. Final. Ever.

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Argentina v France: Final - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

...and breathe.

Those of us who got up at 6:30 on a Sunday morning and schlepped it down to the local brewery through the fog and the cold were treated to one of the greatest games ever, and perhaps the greatest World Cup final of all time, as Argentina prevailed on penalties to beat France, fulfilling Lionel Messi’s destiny and settling quite a few debates about his greatness.

That outcome wasn’t always on the cards. For the first hour and change, this final was defined by how thoroughly Argentina had dominated and outplayed a listless France, on and off the ball, on and off the scoreboard. France had barely a sniff let alone a chance — their first shot of the game didn’t come until the 68th minute. By then, Argentina had built a 2-0 lead, with Messi scoring from the spot then starting the (absolutely brilliant) move for the second, which was finished off by Ángel Di María. The biggest talking point for France up to that point had been the double substitution in the 40th minute, including Olivier Giroud making way. The ex-Chelsea man will not be sending his national team head coach a Christmas card, that’s for sure.

Only two World Cup finals had ever seen a two-goal comeback, both by West Germany: in 1954 against Hungary, going on to win 3-2, and in 1986 against Argentina, going on to lose 3-2 anyway. Neither of those happened in 90 seconds however, which was how long it took for Kylian Mbappé to get France level around the 80th minute — the first from the spot, the second a tremendous first-time finish.

France suddenly had all the momentum, but Argentine held out for extra-time, during which they managed to even retake the lead. And it was that man again, Lionel Messi, who poked home a rebound after some heroic French defending (especially by Dayot Upamecano) had kept the scores level.

But this final was not done blowing our minds yet, as France won another penalty and Mbappé converted again, becoming the second player in World Cup final history to notch a hat-trick (Geoff Hurst for England in 1966 the only other).

And so to penalties we went, where Emi Martínez did his thing in goal and Argentina won their first World Cup since 1986.

What. A. Game!

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