Mon, Jul 16, 11:14am by Staff Writer
France has claimed a second World Cup crown after a 4-2 win against Croatia in Moscow on Monday morning.
The match was clouded in controversy, with two dubious goals awarded to France in the first half.
French striker Antoine Griezmann received minimal contact in the lead up to an 18th minute own-goal scored by Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic.
Replays suggest that the Frenchman received little contact and was seeking contact to drop to the pitch, with diving being thrust into the spotlight at this World Cup after the antics of Neymar earlier in the tournament.
Croatia equalised in emphatic fashion 10 minutes later, with Ivan Perisic scoring a wonderful goal to draw his side level.
Controversy would reign again as from a French corner in the 35th minute, the ball appeared to strike Perisic’s hand as it was headed towards goal.
Blaise Matuidi led the protests, with the referee consulting the VAR. The ball struck Perisic’s left hand and spiked the ball downwards, with the referee judging this to be sufficient for a penalty.
Griezmann scored the spot kick to give France a 2-1 lead at half-time in an entertaining a free-flowing match.
Unlike past World Cup finals matches where the averages number of goals per game has hovered at one, this match looked to have plenty of scoring still left in it.
France were second best in the first half, as Croatia were the more decisive team going forward, with the French uncharacteristically sitting behind the ball.
Croatia owned 61 per cent of possession during the match and were the better side for large parts.
Goals in the second half to teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe and midfielder Paul Pogba sealed an impressive victory, with both men scoring in a six minute span to give France a 4-1 lead.
French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a terrible error which led to Croatia’s second goal, with the ball eluded him on a back pass, giving Croatia hope of an unlikely comeback via a Mario Mandzukic goal.
It was not to be for the Balkan nation, who endured three successive extra time matches to reach the final, the first in the country’s history.
France coach Didier Deschamps becomes just the third man to win the World Cup as a player and a coach.
After losing the final of Euro 2016, the French atoned in a big way at this tournament. They won all of their matches in regular time in the knockout rounds, with only Denmark managing to hold them to a draw in the group stages.
In a losing side, Croatia’s Luka Modric was awarded the golden ball for the best player of the tournament, with Mbappe given the best young player award.
Focus in the football world turns to club football, with many of the European leagues commencing in a month.
Manchester City are $1.62 to win back-to-back Premier League titles and had the most number of club players of any team in the world competing in the world Cup.
Italian side Juventus have signed superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and are $1.40 favourites to claim the Serie A.
The loss of Ronaldo has Barcelona installed as $1.83 favourites to win La Liga ahead of their rivals at $2.20.
The next World Cup takes place in November, 2022 in Qatar, the first tournament to be held in the European winter in the event’s history.
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