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Mbappe and Griezmann vital as France win 2018 World Cup final

By Paul Giblin MOSCOW (Xinhua) -- Kylian Mbappe was decisive in the second half as France banished the ghosts of their defeat in the 2016 European Championship final to beat Croatia 4-2 to win the 2018 World Cup in Moscow on Sunday and claim the trophy for the second time in their history.

The 19-year-old made the difference in the second half of an entertaining final as his pace allowed him to score one goal and set up another for Paul Pogba as France to took a 4-1 lead against a Croatian side which never gave up and can be hugely proud of their World Cup.

Croatia kicked off looking to force the French deep, with Luka Modric again in an advanced role and Ivan Strinic finding space on the left.

France’s first chance came when Mbappe found space in the 17th minute and the move ended with Griezmann fouled outside of the Croatian area. Griezmann took the free kick, which flicked off the leaping Mandzukic to leave Danijel Subasic helpless and give France the lead.

It was the first own goal ever scored in a World Cup final.

Croatia levelled in the 28th minute, thanks to Ivan Perisic’s powerful left foot shot after France failed to clear a Modric free kick.

Referee Nestor Pitana then used the VAR system to award France a penalty in the 37th minute after Perisic handled Griezmann’s corner and Griezmann stepped forward to send Subasic the wrong way from the spot.

France were struggling to defend high balls and Domagoj Vida flicked wide for Croatia in injury time, while Mandzukic was inches away from a touch as a thunderstorm erupted over the Luzhniki Stadium.

Croatia came out strongly again at the start of the second half, with Rebic forcing Hugo Lloris to tip over and Varane at full stretch to deny Perisic, before Lloris had to punch bravely away from Mandzukic.

At the other end Vida did well to deny Mbappe in full stride, before the match was momentarily halted by a pitch invasion, after which Steven Nzonzi replaced Ngolo Kante in the French midfield.

Mbappe then helped decide the game in a six minute spell of play, starting the move which saw Pogba put France 3-1 up in the 59th minute. The teenager again found space and picked out Griezmann who in turn fed the ball to the tall midfielder and although Pogba’s first shot was blocked, the ball fell kindly for him to stroke it past the unsighted Subasic.

Six minutes later it was 4-1: Lucas Hernandez started a move which ended with Mbappe netting his fourth goal of the tournament with a shot from outside of the area.

That looked as if it would seal France’s win, but Lloris made a dreadful error when his clearance bounced into the net off Mandzukic to give Croatia hope, but with Samuel Umtiti excellent in the French defense there was no way back.

           

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