France overcome valiant Croatia to win second World Cup

Joe Williams

France rode their luck before roaring past Croatia to win the World Cup for a second time as a thrilling tournament came to a fitting conclusion.

All eyes were fixed on the Luzhniki Stadium for a showpiece finale that few could have predicted when this action-packed summer got under way in Russia.

The clash brought goals, blunders and no little controversy as France eventually ran out 4-2 victors in Moscow.

The final was an unforgettable end to a tournament that will live long in the memory.

Played at a ferocious intensity from the outset, Croatia continued in the same manner that had seen off England in the semi-finals only for Mario Mandzukic to become the first player to score an own goal in a World Cup final after turning in Antoine Griezmann’s contentiously-awarded free-kick.

Ivan Perisic produced a thumping response as Zlatko Dalic’s men deservedly drew level, only for France to go back ahead as the video assistant referee’s first intervention in a major final allowed Griezmann to score from the spot.

There was little let-up after the break. Following a pitch invasion that Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot have claimed responsibility for, Paul Pogba struck home before Kylian Mbappe followed in Pele’s footsteps by scoring in a World Cup final as a teenager.

Hugo Lloris’ gaffe allowed Mandzukic to reduce the deficit, but the France captain would not be denied lifting the trophy as coach Didier Deschamps helped the country to the title 20 years after doing so as a player.