Peter Drury: Lionel Messi will be sainted in Argentina, his name is in paradise after World Cup win

Peter Drury: Lionel Messi will be sainted in Argentina, his name is in paradise after World Cup win


Lionel Messi has completed the set after Argentina beat France 4-2 on penalties following an incredible 3-3 draw to win the World Cup. Oh, and Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick.

Argentina captain Messi set a new record for most World Cup appearances as he lined up for the 26th – and probably last – time looking to lift the trophy that has so far eluded him.

Angel Di Maria, who missed the 2014 final defeat to Germany through injury, replaced Leandro Paredes in the only change made by head coach Lionel Scaloni from their semi-final win over Croatia. Reigning champions France have been dealing with an illness within their camp.

However, Didier Deschamps was able to welcome back both Dayot Upamecano and Adrien Rabiot into their starting line-up after the pair were ruled out of the semi-final win over Morocco.

That meant Irbrahima Konate and Youssef Fofana dropped to the bench as Les Bleus named the same XI that started the 2-1 quarter-final win over England. Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister had the first shot of note, his fizzing effort straight into the palms of France captain Hugo Lloris as Argentina started brightly.

Rodrigo De Paul’s strike cannoned off Raphael Varane and behind for a corner, with Lloris needing treatment having been barged into by Tottenham team-mate Cristian Romero after the ball had been worked into the box.

Their positive start continued and they were duly rewarded with a penalty as Di Maria outfoxed Ousmane Dembele, who pushed the winger to the ground as he skipped by.

Messi made no mistake from the resulting spot-kick, sending Lloris the wrong way to put Argentina ahead at the midway point of the first half. France were all over the place and their defence was cut to ribbons as a rampant Argentina attack doubled their lead. Messi and Julian Alvarez combined to set Mac Allister in behind the backline and his pinpoint cross was turned home by Di Maria.

Deschamps responded by making two changes before the interval, taking off Olivier Giroud and Dembele and replacing the pair with Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram.

The change of tack at least stemmed the tide of Argentina attacks before the break but Messi and Co were good value for their 2-0 half-time lead. France finally started to whir into life as Mbappe fired over with 20 minutes left on the clock, Deschamps making another two alterations in the hope of changing things.

This time, Antoine Griezmann and Theo Hernandez made way for Kingsley Coman and Eduardo Camavinga. France were offered a lifeline when Muani burst into the box and was adjudged to have been pulled back by Nicolas Otamendi.

Mbappe stepped up and squeezed his penalty past Emiliano Martinez, who guessed the right way but could not prevent the Paris St Germain forward halving the arrears. Just moments later and France were level.

Coman was too strong for Messi and picked out Rabiot before Mbappe exchanged passes with Thuram and fired past Martinez, who arguably should have done better.

Lloris saved from Messi as stoppage time turned into an end-to-end affair. There was to be no winner in normal time, however, as the final headed into extra-time.

Lautaro Martinez almost became the hero moments after coming off the bench but his shot was brilliantly blocked by Upamecano before he prodded wide another decent chance at the end of the first period of extra-time.

Argentina regained the lead three minutes after the restart. Martinez forced a fine save out of Lloris but the ball fell into the path of Messi, whose effort crossed the line before it could be hacked away.

With just two minutes remaining, France were awarded a second penalty of the night, which Mbappe scored for his seventh goal of the tournament.

Muani saw a last-second strike brilliantly saved by Martinez as the game ended 3-3 and headed to a penalty shoot-out. Martinez stopped Kinglsey Coman early on after Mbappe and Messi scored.

Substitute Paolo Dybala then scored for Argentina to give them the advantage. Tchouameni then stepped up but blasted his penalty wide of the post, before Leandro Paredes scored. Kolo Muani scored, but Montiel netted the decisive spot-kick to win Argentina and Messi the World Cup.

  • Football365 report
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