REPORT: France 4 Croatia 2

France have been crowned world champions for a second time after beating Croatia in a thrilling World Cup final on Sunday evening.

Didier Deschamps’ side took the lead inside 20 minutes when a free-kick from Antoine Griezmann was flicked into his own net by semi-final hero Mario Mandzukic.

Croatia trailed for just ten minutes, however, as a loose ball fell to Ivan Perisic on the edge of the box. The Inter Milan winger shifted the ball onto his left before firing it through a sea of bodies and beyond the reach of Hugo Lloris.

The French retook the lead before half-time in as VAR sparked controversy. Argentine referee, Nestor Pintana, had failed to spot a handball by goal-scorer Perisic following a France corner and after several minutes of deliberation, awarded a spot-kick. The resulting penalty was calmly slotted away by Griezmann, who sent Danijel Subasic the wrong way.

Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia side started the second 45 minutes brightly with breakout star Ante Rebic having a snapshot saved by Lloris after being played in by Ivan Rakitic.

Les Bleus doubled their advantage just shy of the hour mark when Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba bent the ball beyond a wrong-footed Subasic after seeing his initial effort blocked by Dejan Lovren.

The game looked to be beyond Croatia’s reach six minutes later when 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe drilled the ball home from 20-yards out, putting the icing on an impressive tournament for the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who was awarded the Young Player of the Tournament after the game.

An out of character mistake from a lackadaisical Lloris allowed Mandzukic to become the first player to score at both ends in a World Cup final – after becoming the first player to score an own goal in football’s showpiece match – by dispossessing the Spurs stopper on the edge of the six-yard box.

Ultimately, this goal proved to be no more than a consolation and the French lifted the World Cup again, 20 years on from their first success.

Sub-edited by Sam Cox

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