3 (4)
3 (2)
See Scores

World Cup final score: Lionel Messi, Argentina outlast Kylian Mbappe, France in penalties in battle for ages

In what will surely go down as one of the best World Cup finals of all time, Argentina defeated France in penalty kicks for their third title. The match ended 3-3 after extra time as Argentina blew two leads but held on in a dramatic shootout, winning it 4-2. Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi both lived up to their billing as the world's biggest stars with Messi first converting a penalty to give Argentina the lead and then setting up the counterattack which ultimately ended with the ball at Angel Di Maria's feet to give Argentina a 2-0 lead. But this game was just getting started.

Kylian Mbappe converted a penalty and added a second shortly after to complete France's first comeback of the night and send the match into extra time. Once there, in the second half, it was Messi who again pulled Argentina ahead, converting on a scramble in front of goal, but again Mbappe pulled France equal, converting a penalty after Argentina was whistled for a handball.

In penalties, Mbappe and Messi went first for their respective clubs and both converted for their teams, leaving their supporting casts to define the title. Argentinian keeper Emiliano Martinez then became the hero. He saved one penalty, then Aurelian Tchouameni missed another for France and that was all it took for Argentina to win a battle for the ages 4-2 on penalties.

When the game began it certainly did not seem like a classic was about to develop. With Di Maria starting his first game for Argentina since the group stage finale against Poland, the Argentine side overwhelmed France out of the gate. Di Maria drew a foul in the box from an unnecessary challenge by Ousmane Dembele to give Argentina a penalty. Messi wouldn't miss from the spot against Hugo Lloris to net his sixth goal of the tournament which put him in the lead in the Golden Boot race over Kylian Mbappe, a race which, as it turned out, had miles left to be run.

Messi has converted four of five penalties during the World Cup but this was the biggest of the bunch. He also became the first male player to score at every stage of the World Cup. Things quickly went from bad to worse for Les Blues when Alexis Mac Allister played in Di Maria for a lovely goal 36 minutes into the match.

Didier Deschamps responded by withdrawing Oliver Giroud and Dembele for Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani but it didn't improve the attack in the first half as France finished it without a single shot. Despite their dominance in attack during the World Cup, Argentina were able to stop France in their tracks due to the strength of their midfield trio.

Things would change late in the match as Nicolas Otamendi conceded a penalty in a one on one situation with Kolo Muani. Mbappe converted his chance from the spot and France came to life. In the blink of an eye, Mbappe would net another to level the score 2-2 as Argentina wobbled late to let a comfortable lead vanish. 

Laturo Martinez came into the match in extra time but continued his poor world cup. His first shot was blocked by Dayot Upamecano but he was played clean through France's defense again and dragged his shot wide. But, in the second half of extra time, Martinez did get a shot on target that rebounded to Messi to just cross the line putting Argentina ahead and seemingly wrapping up the title. But this game just would not quit.

The goal was canceled out by Gonzalo Montiel's hand ball on an Mbappe shot. Mbappe didn't miss on his second penalty of the match, a goal which clinched the Golden Boot for the French superstar, to send the match into a penalty shootout.

France even had a chance to win in extra with Kolo Muani bearing down on Martinez but he wasn't able to take his chance, ensuring a record fifth penalty shootout at this World Cup. Once there, both Messi and Mbappe did their jobs to lead off for their respective teams, and then it was Argentinian keeper Emiliano Martinez's turn to shine. He saved Kingsley Coman's attempt before Aurelian Tchouameni fired wide for France. Meanwhile after Messi, late substitute Paulo Dybala converted followed by Leandro Paredes and Gonzalo Montiel to clinch the shootout, and Lionel Messi's first World Cup title 4-2. 

Here are a few takeaways from the match

The stars delivered

While a hat trick wasn't enough for Kylian Mbappe to win the World Cup, he came to life with everything on the line for France and was able to will them back into the match. Despite not really touching the ball during the first half, Mbappe sprang to life scoring with all three of his shots on target and taking six shots overall. At only 23, Mbappe will be back at this stage and he's more than ready for the spotlight.

Along with Mbappe, Messi may have lost the Golden Boot but winning the Golden Ball and the overall tournament are more than enough for one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Even when Messi was running on fumes later in the match, he was able to track back when needed and scored a critical third goal. Messi's confident penalty in the shootout also helped set the tone for Argentina to go on and win the match.

Emi Martinez is unstoppable

This isn't the first time that Martinez's heroics have shown through in a shootout as even during this World Cup he was called upon to stop the Netherlands in Argentina's quarterfinal match, but his rise is remarkable. From a backup at Arsenal into the number one role for Aston VIlla and Argentina and two international tournaments later and Martinez is rising into legendary status as a goalkeeper. The saves are one thing for the Golden Glove winner, but it's his gamesmanship that brings Martinez to another level.

When Martinez stopped Coman's penalty in the shootout, his celebrations and antics help unsettle the opposition and it's hard to believe they didn't help influence Tchuameni to miss France's next penalty as well. Martinez is able to talk and get in players heads, but also back it up in his shot-stopping abilities, which makes him a terrifying keeper to face in a knockout scenario and an unbelievable asset to the team.

These teams aren't going anywhere

Already facing each other at consecutive World Cups, Argentina will have an impossible hole to fill without Messi but they have the talent to evolve into the next generation. Enzo Fernandez had an excellent match and picked up an award as the best young player of the tournament and Mac Allister also shined. Julian Alvarez had a match to forget but scored four goals during the Word Cup. He has played a major role in getting Argentina this title. They'll all be involved in shaping the next generation of Argentinian soccer while France's conveyor belt of talent keeps moving.

Mbappe is still improving as he ages and Aurelien Tchouameni is also only 22. WIth young players getting experience even on the bench, France will certainly be among the favorites to reach the final in 2026 which would be a thrid straight appearance for them as Les Blues look to continue a remarkable age of dominance.

Live updates
See New Posts

Argentina win the World Cup!

A third title for Argentina, a first in 36 years, a first for Messi! The tears flow as Montiel sends Lloris the wrong way. The better team for most of the final emerge victorious, beating the holders with ice in their veins.

December 18, 2022, 5:55 PM

France 2, Argentina 3

Kolo Muani has been France's gamechanger off the bench and he keeps his form going with a Shearer-esque thud down the middle. Still Montiel can win the World Cup for Argentina.

December 18, 2022, 5:54 PM

France 1, Argentina 3

Paredes slips a little as he drives but Lloris can only get a glove on a powerful effort that ends up in the back of the net. Argentina are one kick away.

December 18, 2022, 5:53 PM

France 1, Argentina 2

Tchouameni puts it wide! Martinez is all mind games and dancing, has it got to the youngster? He goes for the same corner that Martinez has dived towards every time but too far away.

December 18, 2022, 5:53 PM

France 1, Argentina 2

I always say never bring on a player to take penalties. Dybala proves me wrong, rolling the ball low down the middle.

December 18, 2022, 5:51 PM

France 1, Argentina 1 -- Martinez saves

The Aston Villa man guesses the right way and Coman's low drive is nowhere near the corner. A solid save. Advantage Argentina.

December 18, 2022, 5:50 PM

France 1, Argentina 1

Messi waits for Lloris to move to his left and rolls it the other way. Lloris tries to gamble back but can't get to the ball quick enough. What a finish!

December 18, 2022, 5:50 PM

France 1, Argentina 0

Martinez gets a glove on it but can only guide it into the net as Mbappe opens the scoring. Of course it's Messi next.

December 18, 2022, 5:49 PM

A mini win for Argentina

The penalties will be taken at their end. It'll be the French first and of course it will be Mbappe.

December 18, 2022, 5:48 PM

FT -- Big misses at both ends

What a spectacular end to the greatest World Cup final ever! Emi Martinez kept Argentina in it at one end then his namesake Lautaro spurned a wonderful headed opportunity, he had to at least get it on target. This has been something else indeed!

December 18, 2022, 5:45 PM

Penalties! Incredible drama

Kolo Muani is denied by Martinez at one end and then Martinez heads wide at the other with seconds left! We are going to penalties. Perhaps the most fitting end to all of this.


GOAL! -- Mbappe has his hat trick

12 World Cup goals. Three in a final, only the second man to do that. This is greatness before our eyes.

December 18, 2022, 5:39 PM

France's first penalties

Deschamps and his staff were saying pre-match that Les Bleus have not received any penalties this World Cup... Suddenly they have had two in the biggest game! 


Penalty to France!

A corner comes out to Mbappe. Montiel charges him down and blocks the shot... with his elbow. Mbappe's on a hat trick! This game!!!

December 18, 2022, 5:36 PM

Argentina go in flying

It seems Scaloni's side have concluded that no one will get at their goal if they just start spraying kicks. Paredes absolutely wipes out Camavinga as he charges upfield, accepting the free kick rather than the open play attack. It just about works out.

December 18, 2022, 5:34 PM

GOAL -- Argentina lead... maybe? Definitely!

Lautaro fluffs his lines again, taking a really heavy first touch that takes him wide and his thundering effort is saved by Lloris. But it comes as far as Messi, who bundles the ball in before Kounde can clear off the line. 10 minutes to go. VAR checks and says it stands. Glory is within reach.

December 18, 2022, 5:29 PM

Upamecano heroics

The Bayern Munich man with a heroic piece of defending to deny Argentina a good opportunity on goal. Moment later, Martinez runs through on goal and puts it just wide as Upamecano and Lloris meet him.


20 minutes to win it

France with many of their experienced players off the pitch now with penalties a possibility. Given how this Argentine side are flagging, the French youth have a great chance to capitalize on this growing tension. 


The nerves are building

France have responded well with Fofana so full of energy as he harries Alvarez and then draws a foul to give Coman a chance to whip the ball in. It has got so stressful for Argentina that even Messi is back defending, flicking a header out for a corner and winning a free kick in his own third soon after.

December 18, 2022, 5:17 PM

We go again

Almost as soon as the final whistle is blown we're up and running again. A change from Argentina as Montiel replaces Molina at right back. They seem to have calmed down a fair bit as we return to action and are seeing plenty of the ball. A heavy tackle by Thuram, already on a yellow, is a warning shot for France.

December 18, 2022, 5:08 PM

Against the odds

Incredible stuff, eh? Few (myself included) thought that we would reach this point, but here we are. Deschamps' changes have given the French new life, but Argentina have a number of changes that they can now make which Scaloni has held off on.


Full time -- It's all square

We'll have another half hour for you very soon. What an impact by Mbappe.

December 18, 2022, 5:01 PM

Messi so close

For a second you thought that was it, the crowning exit from the great man. He finds space on the right side, five yards out of the box, cuts past one defender and thumps it. He whacks it so hard when maybe you'd expect him to bend it and so Lloris tips it away. A reminder, though, that there are still matchwinners in this game for Argentina.

December 18, 2022, 5:00 PM


Pinball inside the Argentina box as Coman gives the defense twisted blood and Martinez is left hanging onto the ball for dear life. An incredible turn of events. Literally waiting for the whistle to regroup.


France believe

Incredible how this game has been transformed in under two minutes. Two Mbappe goals and the French have gone from standing no chance to suddenly having every chance. Argentina look every bit a team who have seen victory snatched from their grasp. They could do with this game going to extra time as Les Bleus look more and more confident with every venture forward. Eight minutes added on too! Suddenly Deschamps' early changes do not quite look so baffling. 


Argentina shellshocked

They were managing this game just fine, totally in control of proceedings. Now they're quite naturally thinking, what on earth has just happened. A team that were there for every single loose ball and utterly serene in possession are suddenly at sea. Fernandez is lucky to avoid a penalty when Fernandez pulls his boot away from Thuram in the box, the Frenchman booked for a dive.

December 18, 2022, 4:50 PM


France 2-2 Argentina! You could not make this up. Mbappe with his second. Superb finish! The Frenchman leads the scoring charts over Messi by one goal. Suddenly Les Bleus are back in it.


GOAL -- Mbappe revives French hopes

Martinez gets a glove on it but it isn't enough to deny France. They have a chance!

December 18, 2022, 4:43 PM

Penalty to France

Kolo Muani has looked like the only player who might do something... and that's what he does, carrying the ball into the penalty area for his side's third touch in the box. He is hauled to the ground by Otamendi and suddenly, out of nowhere, France have a chance.

December 18, 2022, 4:42 PM

Argentina trying to tighten up

Bringin on Acuna for Di Maria, who departed to a hero's reception, is a familiar tactic from Scaloni who it seems is quite happy to sit one wide player in front of the other and just survive. A reminder that it can be a risky approach comes when Otamendi nearly spoons a clearance into his own goal but frankly, if Argentina don't make a mistake, they'll be fine.

December 18, 2022, 4:33 PM
See More