Argentina's Lionel Messi lifts the trophy after winning the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. Argentina won 4-2 in a penalty shootout after the match ended tied 3-3. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Argentina Wins World Cup

Throughout previous World Cups, Lionel Messi had been let down by Argentina. In the past, the squad lacked talent or came up just short of victory. Many were fearful that Messi’s last shot at lifting the World Cup trophy would be fruitless, but Argentina finally came through for their captain.

In one of the best soccer matches in recent memory, Argentina defeated France 4-2 in penalties to take home the 2022 World Cup.

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Regular Time

France was down the majority of the match. Argentinian wing Ángel Di María drew a penalty against the French side in the 21st minute after dribbling around France’s Ousmane Dembélé. Dembélé frustratedly tripped up Di María, conceding a foul inside the French box. All Messi had to do was sneak the shot past Hugo Lloris, which he did easily, putting Argentina up 1-0.

The Albicelestes doubled their lead soon after when midfielder Alexis Mac Allister sprinted the ball through the French half on a counter. He would skim the ball across the box to Di María, who chipped it in over Lloris.

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Argentina controlled possession for the majority of the match, especially in the first half. The Argentinian side planned perfectly for France, keeping the ball away from the French attack and swarming the ball. Argentina capitalized on a lack of wide defending, turning wide counterattacks into goals.

France grew frustrated, making two attacking substitutions before the end of the first half. All seemed hopeless for the French.

But you can never count out Kylian Mbappé.

The French attacker scored two goals in the match’s twilight to tie the match. The scoring started after an 80th-minute penalty, where Argentina’s Nicolás Otamendi shoved French attacker Randal Kolo Muani to the ground. Mbappé buried the penalty past Emi Martínez, who could only graze the ball with his fingertips.

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France’s second goal came just 97 seconds later when Mbappé rocketed a volley past Martinez. Ultimately the last ten minutes of the match would go back and forth, with both sides having excellent chances. Neither could land the final blow, and the match went into extra time.

Extra Time

Ultimately extra time momentum shifted back to Argentina. The Albicestes had a plethora of chances in extra time, and it was Messi who tapped the ball home to give the Argentinians the lead.

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The match seemed secure as Argentina took their lead into the final five minutes of extra time, but the South American side conceded a second penalty after a Gonzalo Montiel handball inside the box. Mbappé once again rocketed the ball home, sending the match to penalties. The penalty gave Mbappé the first World Cup final hat trick since 1966.

Emi Martínez was the penalty hero for Argentina. Martínez stopped Kingsley Coman’s penalty, and Aurélien Tchouaméni sent his wide of goal.

Argentina made all four of their penalties, winning the shootout 4-2. Montiel redeemed himself, nailing the scooting the final penalty into the bottom left corner to seal France’s fate.

Argentina survive the French scare, crowning themselves 2022 World Cup champions.

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About Connor O'Bryan

Connor O'Bryan is a world soccer reporter for ESPN Gainesville. He also sometimes covers baseball and other sports. He has previously written for WUFT Gainesville and for Atrium Magazine. Connor also cohosts the "Off The Bar Podcast", a student driven podcast that focuses on the global soccer landscape.

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