Lionel Messi scores twice, and Argentina withstand Kylian Mbappé hat trick to win first World Cup title since 1986

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Andre Durao/SPP/Shutterstock (13672886c) Lionel Messi in the final match between the teams of Argentina vs France, for the title dispute of the Qatar 2022 / FIFA World Cup, at Lusail Stadium, in Doha Photo by Andre Ricardo / Ag. Frame (Andre Durao / SPP) Argentina v France, FIFA World Cup Final, Doha, Qatar – 18 Dec 2022

Lionel Messi scores twice, and Argentina withstand Kylian Mbappé hat trick to win first World Cup title since 1986

Recapping the Sunday action:

ARGENTINA 3, FRANCE 3 (Argentina win 4-2 on penalties)

  • What: World Cup, Finals
  • When: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022 @ 9 a.m. CT
  • Where: Lusail Iconic Stadium (Lusail, Qatar)
  • FIFA World Ranking: Argentina (No. 3), France (No. 4)

Lionel Messi scored twice – and Kylian Mbappé registered just the second hat trick in World Cup finals history – but it was Argentina who outlasted France 4-2 on penalty kicks, in the end to claim their third-ever World Cup title in what was a finals match for the ages on Sunday at Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail, Qatar. Only twice had a World Cup ever gone to penalty kicks before Sunday, and it was No. 3-ranked Argentina who prevailed once more  – their second penalty kick victory in the knockout round – as France missed their second and third attempts in defeat.

It was Argentina’s first World Cup title since 1986, when they won two out of three campaigns, and it was also Messi’s record 25th and final World Cup match for his South American nation, thwarting France’s bid to become the first back-to-back champions since Brazil did it in 1962.

Messi’s goal in the 108th minute, during extra time, gave Argentina a 3-2 lead, but France countered with less than three minutes remaining as Mbappé scored his third goal – and his second penalty conversion of the game – on the penalty spot in the 118th minute to tie the score at 3-3. 

Mbappé’s hat trick was preceded by a hand ball and subsequent yellow card from Argentina’s Gonzalo Montiel, and it gave him a World Cup-leading eight total goals – one more than Messi – to earn him FIFA’s Golden Boot award (top goalscorer) just four years after winning the FIFA Best Young Player award as a 19-year-old during France’s 2018 World Cup title run in Russia.

Messi’s second goal was also historic in its own right, as it was his 98th in an Argentina uniform and 13th overall World Cup goal. The 35-year-old became the first player to score in the group stage, Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals in the same World Cup.

Messi calmly drained the first penalty round attempt for Argentina to answer Mbappé, who converted first for France, and Argentina remained nearly perfect on penalty kicks again, this time sinking all four attempts after making four of five in their quarterfinal victory over the Netherlands. Paulo Dybala, Leandro Paredes, and Montiel all made their attempts after Messi, while France saw their second and third shots missed by reserve Kingsley Coman and Aurélien Tchouaméni, respectively. Randal Kolo Muani, who subbed in for Olivier Giroud in the first half, made the fourth attempt for France, but it was too little too late as Montiel redeemed himself from his aforementioned hand ball with a right-footed shot into the bottom left corner of the net.

Argentina opened up the scoring midway through the first half on a penalty kick by Lionel Messi in the 23rd minute to take a 1-0 lead. It was Messi’s sixth goal of the 2022 World Cup, and his fourth penalty kick goal of the tournament for an Argentina squad which came into Sunday leading the entire field in penalty kicks awarded. The 34-year-old veteran Ángel Di María of Juventus added a second score in the 36th minute on an assist from the 23-year-old Alexis Mac Allister of Brighton to give his team a commanding 2-0 lead heading into halftime.

Di María, a national football legend who had come off the bench in Argentina’s quarterfinal match and didn’t even appear in the semifinals versus Croatia, was surely the man of the match in the opening half. Di María not only scored the second goal for his team but also drew a foul from France’s Ousmane Dembélé, which set up Messi’s penalty kick for the game’s first score.

The White and Sky Blues of Argentina were dominant with the ball for much of the first half, leading the game in time of possession (59% to 41%), total shots (6 to 0), and shots on goal (3 to 0) as France struggled mightily on offense during the first 45 minutes.

Some surprising early first-half substitutes appeared to alter the momentum of the match, however, when French manager Didier Deschamps subbed out two key starters, Olivier Giroud and Dembélé, in the 41st minute with his team down by two goals. Leading assist-man Antoine Griezmann and Theo Hernández, who scored versus Morocco in the semifinals, were also subbed off in the 71st minute, leading France without four of its top players and down 2-0.

The bold substitutions by Deschamps paid off massive dividends for France just minutes later.

Randal Kolo Muani, who had subbed in for Dembélé, drew a penalty inside the box in the 80th minute from Argentina’s Nicolás Otamendi to set up for Kylian Mbappé for a penalty kick.

Mbappé converted the penalty with a strong right boot into the bottom left corner of the net to cut the deficit to 2-1. Just one minute and 33 seconds later, Mbappé again found the back of the net, this time on an assist from Marcus Thuram, who subbed in for Giroud, to even the score at 2-2 in the 81st minute by footing the ball this time into the bottom right corner of the net.

Mbappé’s two scores in less than two minutes gave him a World Cup-leading seven goals scored at the time – one ahead of Messi -and he finished with eight total to Messi’s seven in the end. After his hat trick, Mbappé officially finished the match with a total of 13 World Cup goals since 2018, one behind all-time World Cup-leading French goalscorer Just Fontaine.

Just like Argentina in the first half, France were surely the dominant side in the second half, going from zero total shots and zero corner kicks in the first 45 minutes of play to seven total shots, three shots on target, and four corner kicks in the final 45 minutes of regulation time.

Argentina held the edge in the final box score in time of possession (54% to 46%), total shots (20 to 10), shots on target  (10 to 5), and corner kicks (6 to 5) while also finishing with the lead, according to FOTMOb, in expected goals (3.34 to 2.24), accurate passes (525 to 411), shots inside the box (12 to 7), tackles won (18 to 15). No. 4-ranked France, on the other hand, led the match in accurate long balls (40 to 27), accurate crosses (3 to1), ground duels won (66 to 49), aerial duels won (22 to 9), and successful dribbles (17 to 8).

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