France has become champion of the world for a second time after holding out a determined Croatia in an entertaining World Cup final.
While it wasn’t always convincing — its first two goals came from the first ever own-goal and video assistant referee awarded penalty in a World Cup final, and French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a terrible error for Croatia’s second — Les Bleus made the most of their chances to hold out the Vatreni 4-2.
Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe and midfield maestro Paul Pogba finished impressive team goals in a six-minute second half blitz that put the game beyond a Croatian side which had dominated large stretches and had 61 per cent possession.
While the French led 2-1 at half-time, Pogba blew the game open in the 59th minute by finishing a move that he had started in midfield.
He played Mbappe into a wide channel and then calmly curled Antoine Griezmann’s lay back pass past a motionless Daniel Subasic.
The 19-year-old Mbappe — already the first teenager to play in a World Cup final since Pele in 1958 — then matched another record held by the Brazil legend by scoring on 65 minutes.
Defender Lucas Hernandez held off a strong challenge by Mario Mandzukic and passed inside to find Mbappe whose powerful right-foot strike beat Subasic once again.
Mandzukic gave his side a slice of hope on 68 minutes, taking full advantage of Lloris’ horrible attempt to beat him from a pass back.
But it wasn’t enough as France made amends for its defeat by Portugal in the 2016 European Championships by becoming the world’s best.
France coach Didier Deschamps became just the third man to win the World Cup as a player and a coach, following Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil’s Mario Zagallo.
Croatia had played extra time in each of its three previous matches but showed no signs of fatigue early in the final.
Deschamps’ men were was happy to sit back and let Croatia have the ball but against the run of play, France was in front on 18 minutes.
France striker Antoine Griezmann went down cheaply but was awarded a free kick 30 metres from goal.
His inch perfect delivery needed intervention and Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic could not get anything substantial on it and glanced it into his own net.
But just as it has come from behind several times this tournament, Croatia was not down for long and was level 10 minutes later through a sweet Ivan Perisic left foot half volley.
While his sweep past N’golo Kante and finish was sublime, Perisic went from hero to zero only eight minutes later.
From a dangerously delivered Griezmann corner, the French players lobbied Argentine referee Nestor Pitana that the Croatia goalscorer had handballed the ball in the box.
While it was originally waved away, Pitana spent five minutes reviewing the footage on the pitch side screen and reversed his decision.
Griezmann sent Daniel Subasic the wrong to again put France in front against the run of play.
But France, which was among the pre-tournament favourites thank to its talent rich squad, managed to turn it on when it mattered most.
Even in a losing side, Croatia’s Luka Modric was rewarded with the golden ball for player of the tournament, while Mbappe was presented with the best young player award for his breakout World Cup.