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France beat Croatia to win World Cup after Croatia thriller

Moscow (AFP) – France won their second World Cup 20 years after their maiden triumph on Sunday, seeing off a dogged and desperate Croatia side who refused to lie down in one of the most electrifying finals in recent years.

The breathless 4-2 victory under stormy skies at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium means Didier Deshchamps’ side — balancing youthful vitality and tournament nous — have buried the pain of their defeat in the Euro 2016 final on home soil. 

For the small nation of Croatia, the loss spells bitter pain but fans at home will celebrate the best run in the nation’s history, which featured a stunning win against Argentina and a semi-final victory against England. 

Earlier, Croatia’s fans, massed behind Danijel Subasic’s goal, unveiled an enormous flag during their national anthem and their side roared out of the blocks, pinning France back in their own half. 

It was the French who scored first, courtesy of an own goal in the 18th minute by Mario Mandzukic following an Antoine Griezmann free-kick but they were pegged back by a lovely Ivan Perisic strike 10 minutes later.

Griezmann restored France’s lead from the penalty spot after the referee awarded a controversial spot-kick with the help of VAR (video assistant referee) for a hand ball. 

As thunder rolled around the stadium, Griezmann lined up the penalty, holding the ball under his arm. Crotia goalkeeper Subasic did his best to put the French striker off but he held his nerve to lash the spot-kick into the net. 

Croatia were first out after half-time and again were into their stride quickly, with the brilliant Luka Modric pulling the strings in midfield as roars of “Croatia” echoed round the stadium. 

But Manchester United’s Paul Pogba extended France’s lead within a quarter of an hour, stroking the ball home — sparking scenes of joy behind the goal from French fans, who knew their country had one hand on the trophy. 

Kylian Mbappe appeared to make sure just just minutes later. But Croatia were given renewed hope when Mandzukic made the most of a mistake by France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

– France victorious –

France, strongly fancied to win the final, started their tournament in France slowly, beating Australia and Peru by the odd goal before a goalless stalemate with Denmark saw them top the group. 

But they moved up through the gears in the knockout stages, seeing off Lionel Messi’s Argentina in a seven-goal thriller before cruising to a 2-0 win against Uruguay and seeing off Belgium 1-0 in the semi-final. 

For Croatia, the match in Moscow was perhaps one too far after they were taken to extra-time for three consecutive games. 

Deschamps, who captained France when they lifted the World Cup in 1998, has become just the third man to win the trophy as both a player and a manager after Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo.

Croatia have brought joy to their Balkan nation of just four million people by defying the odds to progress to the final while reigning champions Germany, then Argentina and Brazil all fell by the wayside in Russia.

Football fever has slowly built over the past four weeks as France took its young national team to heart, with ecstatic scenes on the Champs-Elysees avenue after their semi-final victory.

Giant screens were erected in scores of fan zones across the country under exceptionally tight security, with the biggest gathering of all expected in Paris, where 90,000 will converge on a fanzone next to the Eiffel Tower.

Red-and-white chequerboard patterns were everywhere in Croatia, on cars, in shop windows, trams, buses as well as on jerseys worn by waiters, shop workers or TV presenters.

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  1. cm asia

    July 15, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Did you know Rob Stone misled America when, a few minutes after the conclusion of the game, said something like, “Presentations are about to begin, and we’ll be right back. Don’t worry, you won’t miss anything.”

    I was watching 2 feeds of the coverage:
    1) the 360 channel through my Roku
    2) The Fox Sports network feed streaming on my PC

    By the time FOX network came back from commercial, Mbappe and Modric had already received their awards, and the referees were receiving their medals.

    FOX came back and Stone made it look like we were looking at a live scene as Mbappe begins to make his way to the podium.
    After Modric received his award, FOX completely cut the referees walking onstage and suddenly we were back live.

    A shameful end to a shameful month of coverage.

    I’m 63 and can only hope I’m still around when the 2030 World Cup appears on the ABF network – Anyone But FOX.

    • nosferatu

      July 16, 2018 at 1:48 am

      Fox was so desperate to squeeze in as many commercials as possible–just as they’ve been at halftime during the entire tournament. People focus on the bad studio analysis, but it’s basically been super rushed (by anyone not named Lalas) during halftime because they’ve been allotted so little time. I would argue it’s actually detrimental to advertisers; fans know it’s going to be 15 minutes of nothing of value so they can just walk away and do something else or change the channel.

      Yet again, Fox’s coverage brought down by their inability to focus on anything but dollar signs, just as we’ve seen with the announcers they’ve used and how many of them they actually sent to Russia.

  2. Ivan

    July 15, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    Check what footballers and former referees have to say about this.
    Daylight robbery, god forbid a nation of 4 mln people win the World Cup.
    The most corrupt international organization in the history of mankind will NEVER let that happen.
    Hrvatska-2018 World champion.

  3. paul

    July 15, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    why was modric playing and not in jail? any other individual who under investigation says one thing (aware of the fraudulent scam) and in court says the exact opposite. it is the definition of perjury……

  4. Brendan

    July 15, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    No free kick for the first goal . Was a penalty for the second goal . Defender was off the ground and did use his hand . VAR got it right . Big players for Croatia didn’t show up . Didn’t have the clinical finishing that France had . Otherwise an enjoyable Tournament

  5. Ivan

    July 15, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Never a free kick for the first goal, never a penalty for the second.
    Hrvatska outplayed them.
    Been watching World Cup since 1986, this was the crappiest winner, by a mile.
    What a tournament, though, some stunning games.
    Hrvatska the real champions of this one.
    Davai, Hrvatska!

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