Sunday July 15 2018
World Cup: Croatia can't stop France

Croatia dominated the World Cup Final for long periods, with Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic on target, but France won the trophy 4-2.

This was the first ever Final for Croatia, while Les Bleus hadn’t been here since losing to Italy in 2006 and star striker Kylian Mbappé was born the same year as their last victory in 1998.

Perisic shook off a thigh injury to start with Inter teammate Marcelo Brozovic, Juve’s Mandzukic and Milan full-back Ivan Strinic. Blaise Matuidi of Juve again played in a more advanced role.

It was a very strong start from underdogs Croatia and they dominated the early stages, yet France took the lead against the run of play. Antoine Griezmann seemed to go down with barely any contact from Brozovic and the resulting free kick took a deflection off Mandzukic’s head. Curiously, it was the first ever own goal in a World Cup Final.

Croatia equalised from their own set play, this one far more complex, as it was knocked on several times until Perisic took it away from N’Golo Kante for a ferocious left-footed half-volley into the far bottom corner.

However, Perisic went from hero to villain moments later, as a corner struck his hand as he was behind Matuidi, even though he probably didn’t see it coming. It was awarded after a VAR review and Griezmann converted the penalty for France.

Dejan Lovren had a volley in the box charged down by Paul Pogba and after the break Ante Rebic’s strike from a tight angle was fingertipped over the bar.

They were dominating again, but almost caught out by the pace of Kylian Mbappé, forcing Danijel Subasic to rush off his line to parry.

It happened again with a counter and this time Pogba had one shot charged down in the box, but fired in the rebound with his left foot from the edge of the box. The former Juventus midfielder had also started the move with a long ball for Mbappé.

Croatia inevitably folded and France ran riot, Mbappé drilling in a daisy-cutter to the near bottom corner from distance. He became the first teenager to score in a World Cup Final since Pele for Brazil in 1958, his fourth of the tournament.

Just as it seemed over, Lloris hesitated on a Samuel Umtiti back-pass and allowed Mandzukic to tap in from six yards for 4-2. France held on under pressure to take home the World Cup trophy.

France 4-2 Croatia

Mandzukic og 19 (F), Perisic 29 (C), Griezmann pen 38 (F), Pogba 59 (F), Mbappé 65 (F), Mandzukic 69 (C)

France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Pogba, Kanté (N’Zonzi 54); Mbappé, Griezmann, Matuidi (Tolisso 73); Giroud (Fekir 80)

Croatia: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic (Pjaca 81); Rakitic, Brozovic; Rebic (Kramaric 71), Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic

Ref: Pitana (ARG)

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