Tuesday, February 25, 2020
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France 4:2 Croatia in 2018 World Cup final

France was up 2-1 at halftime in the 2018 World Cup final soccer match, played in Moscow on Sunday, and no team since Argentina in 1930 had ever trailed at halftime and pulled out a victory in the final match.

The first goal for the French came at the 17-minute mark, hurled toward the goal by Antoine Griezmann and then deflected by Croatia’s Mario Mandžukić, scoring what is the only own goal ever in a final match, although it was the 12th in this year’s World Cup.

So given the record-setting trends of the 2018 series, it was possible that Argentina’s record would fall as well, as have so many others during this historic World Cup. But not this time.

Not for Croatia, despite a few come-from-behind victories in extra time earlier in this World Cup. A victory would have handed them their first World Cup since the small country came into existence in the 1990s. Instead, France won their second, the last one coming in 1998.

Embed from Getty Images
France’s Antoine Griezmann scores his team’s second goal from the penalty spot. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The coach of this year’s French national team, Didier Deschamps, won the World Cup as the captain of France’s team in 1998, according to an article in the French newspaper Le Monde. He’s now the third man in history to coach and play for a World Cup winner.

Throughout France, fans “exploded with joy,” the paper reported. The second goal came directly off Griezmann’s foot and became the first-ever “video-assistant-reviewed goal” in the history of the World Cup, the New York Times reported.

Goals would be added in the second half by France’s Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, as well as one more from Croatia’s Mandžukić, aided by a goalkeeping mistake by Hugo Lloris of France (he tried to play the ball around Mandžukić, who simply stuck out his leg and sent it into the net).

That lapse on Lloris’s part gave Croatian fans a breath of hope, but the team was just too far down to mount a serious comeback effort.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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