Argentina entered the 2022 men’s World Cup in Qatar knowing it was likely their last chance at the sport’s biggest prize while it still had arguably the greatest player of all-time on their side. Lionel Messi had accomplished everything in the football world outside of a World Cup title. At 35 years old, it was now or never.
Messi got his storybook ending, and the Argentina is champions of the World Cup.
Argentina beat France, 3-3 (4-2), in penalty kicks in the World Cup final. The frantic back-and-forth affair may go down as the greatest men’s World Cup game of all-time. In the end, it’s Messi who gets the glory of his first World Cup title, while Argentina is champions of the tournament for the third time, following their victories in 1978 and 1986.
Here’s the winning goal in the penalty shootout by Argentina:
This save by Argentina goal keeper Emiliano Martínez keyed in the win in the penalty shootout.
This was already the best men’s World Cup final ever even before the shootout.
Argentina led 2-0 in the 80th minute before France was taken down in the box. Mbappe buried the penalty kick to trim the deficit to one. France scored again one minute later when Mbappe and Marcus Thuram found an opening in the defense with Mbappe ripping a beautiful shot in the corner of the goal.
Then game went into extra time, where the score was first broken by Messi. In the 108th minute, Messi found the back of the net. The play was reviewed but ultimately VAR determined Argentina was not offsides. The ball was inside the goal when France kicked it out, giving Messi the goal he needed to pull Argentina in front. Watch it here:
France would answer minutes later when when they were taken down inside the box, and Mbappe added another penalty kick. Mbappe had three goals on the day, two of them coming on penalties. Mbappe also made his penalty kick for France in the shootout before his teammates came up short.
Messi had two goals himself. He started the scoring in the match with a goal on a penalty kick in the 22nd minute:
Argentina’s second goal was one of the prettiest of the tournament. Ángel Di María capitalized on a beautiful attack, and then showed his love for the fans back home.
Watch the goal and the celebration here:
Argentina started its run in the World Cup on a sorry note when it was upset by Saudi Arabia. After that, Argentina went unbeaten. They defeated Poland and Mexico to win Group C. In the knockout stage, Argentina beat Australia, barely got by Netherlands in penalty kicks, then beat Croatia to reach the final.
France was seeking to become the first back-to-back men’s World Cup champ in 60 years. Mbappe did his part with three goals. Ultimately, this tournament was about Messi. He now has the only accolade in his career that had eluded him.