MX23RW : Friday, October 19 05:32:24
Jul 15, 2018 at 4pm UK at ​Luzhniki Stadium
France
4-2
Croatia
Mandzukic (18' og.), Griezmann (38' pen.), Pogba (59'), Mbappe (65')
Kante (27'), Hernandez (41')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Perisic (28'), Mandzukic (69')
Vrsaljko (92')

Live Commentary: World Cup final: France 4-2 Croatia - as it happened

Live Commentary: World Cup final: France 4-2 Croatia - as it happened
© Reuters
Relive the 2018 World Cup final as France beat Croatia 4-2 to claim the trophy for only the second time in their history.

France won their second World Cup title this afternoon courtesy of a thrilling 4-2 win over Croatia in the final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

Mario Mandzukic claimed an unwanted piece of history with the first own goal in a World Cup final to give France the lead against the run of play, but Ivan Perisic levelled things up 10 minutes later.

A controversial VAR-awarded penalty saw Antoine Griezmann restore France's lead heading into half time, and second-half strikes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe effectively wrapped up the trophy for Les Bleus.

Croatia were handed a final glimmer of hope when Hugo Lloris gifted Mandzukic a goal back, but France saw out the final 20 minutes safely to lift the 2018 World Cup trophy.

Find out how all of the action unfolded in world football's biggest game courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.


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2pmGood afternoon! The big day is finally here! Thirty-one days after the 2018 World Cup began in style with hosts Russia thrashing Saudi Arabia 5-0 it will come to a close this afternoon with France taking on Croatia in a final no-one will have predicted.

It is a tournament which has contained shocks galore, wonder goals and talking points throughout and, whatever happens in game 64 of 64 today, it will go down as one of the very best World Cups ever.

France will be the heavy favourites to come away with the crown in this match, but Croatia have already upset plenty of odds to make it this far and they are now just 90 minutes away from the greatest moment in their nation's footballing history.

We have a bumper two-hour buildup for you today, so let's get started with a look at the French!


2.03pmFrance are the last ones standing of the pre-tournament favourites, with the likes of Brazil, Germany, Spain, Argentina and Portugal all falling by the wayside throughout this incredible tournament, and it is now only Les Bleus standing in the way of a shock winner at the 21st World Cup.

It s no surprise to see France at this stage, though, having also reached the final of Euro 2016 with their supremely-talented young squad. Les Bleus boast some of the world's best young players and seem to have strength in depth in every single position, so victory today could well be the start of a period of dominance for them.

They are still haunted by that Euro 2016 final defeat at the hands of Portugal on home soil, but victory today would finally exorcise those demons.


2.06pmFrance are looking to lift the World Cup trophy for the second time this afternoon, and the first ever on foreign soil having previously won during the 1998 tournament in their own country.

Should Les Bleus achieve that feat then they would be only the sixth nation to win the World Cup on more than one occasion - following in the footsteps of Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina and Uruguay, with only the first three of those lifting the trophy more than twice.

It has taken a while for France to become a genuine footballing superpower - with brief exceptions in the Just Fontaine and Michel Platini eras - but they are very much among the leading lights now.


2.09pmIndeed, France have actually reached the World Cup final more often than any other nation over the past 20 years, having never made it to this stage prior to their 1998 success.

This will be the third time France have been involved in football's biggest game over the past two decades, of course winning in 1998 before losing to Italy on penalties in the 2006 final. Les Bleus are only the sixth country to have reached the World Cup final at least three times, following in the footsteps of Germany, Brazil, Italy, Argentina and Netherlands.

France have also reached two European Championship finals during this golden 20 years too - in 2000 and 2016 - and this will be their sixth final at a major tournament overall, winning three of their previous five.


2.12pmThe greatest moment in French football history remains that 1998 final against Brazil, though, when Zinedine Zidane's two headers set the hosts on their way to a 3-0 victory over Ronaldo's Brazil side in Paris.

While victory today would certainly rival that success, it is unlikely to surpass it considering 1998 came on home soil and was so important for the country for a number of different reasons.

You can relive that incredible final here:


2.15pmWhile France's record over the past 20 years is unparalleled on the biggest stage, it has by no means been plain sailing for the team, and the World Cup has tended to mark the highest and lowest points of their recent history.

After the elation of winning the trophy for the first time in 1998, France went into the 2002 tournament as both defending world and European champions. Defeat to Senegal in the opening match set the tone, though, and they were eliminated in the group stages without even scoring a goal.

Four years later Zidane's France were back in the final, losing on penalties to Italy, but 2010 saw them slump to yet another group-stage exit. Indeed, things got so bad in 2010 that the players even went on strike at one stage of the tournament, so to have reached this stage eight years after that is an achievement in itself.


2.18pmSince that 2010 debacle, France have only lost one of their last 11 World Cup matches, winning eight of those and drawing two. That came after a run of four World Cup games without a win - the 2006 final followed by their three group games in 2010 - so they have very much got themselves back on the right path now.

Excluding penalty shootouts - namely the 2006 final defeat to Italy - France's quarter-final defeat to eventual winners Germany four years ago is their only loss in their last 14 World Cup knockout games - a run which includes 11 wins.


2.21pmFrance obviously have an experienced manager in the dugout too, with Didier Deschamps taking charge of his third major tournament and having that rare insight of having played in a World Cup final himself.

Throughout the tournament Deschamps has been questioned about how it feels to be potentially only the third man to lift the trophy as both a player and a manager, but now he is just 90 minutes away from following in the footsteps of Mario Zagallo of Brazil and Franz Beckenbauer of Germany.

Indeed, Deschamps would only be the second man - after Beckenbauer - to have won the World Cup as both a captain and a manager, and his overall record in the tournament as coach is impressive, with eight wins from 11 games.


2.24pmWORLD CUP FINAL MEMORIES: Eight years after making headlines with two goals in the 1998 final, Zinedine Zidane's head was used for more destructive purposes in the 2006 showpiece when he planted a headbutt on Marco Materazzi in his last ever game as a player.

Zidane had earlier given France the lead with an audacious Panenka penalty before Materazzi - of all people - equalised with a thumping header, but it was a sorry end to an illustrious career and Italy eventually went on to get their hands on the trophy via a penalty shootout.


2.27pmHow have France got to this stage, then?

Well, as if often the case with the top teams, it took Les Bleus a little while to get going at this summer's tournament and they were far from convincing during the group stages, despite finishing top of Group C, two points clear of second-placed Denmark.

France's World Cup began with a 2-1 victory over Australia which was shrouded in controversy and a bit of luck, with Griezmann being awarded and then scoring a contentious penalty via VAR. Australia hit back with a penalty of their own shortly afterwards, but then a hugely fortuitous own goal handed France a winning start to the tournament.

A narrow 1-0 win over Peru followed in their second game, before Denmark held them to a goalless draw in their final group game to seal both sides' places in the last 16.


2.30pmFrance provided arguably the game of the tournament alongside Argentina in the last 16 stage when the two sides played out a seven-goal thriller which Les Bleus edged by four goals to three.

Deschamps's side led, then trailed and then led again in a match littered with wonder goals, and it was also particularly notable for the performance of Kylian Mbappe, who scored two goals and won a penalty.

France have shown more defensive resilience in their two matches since then, though, battling to a 2-0 win over Uruguay in the last 16 courtesy of a set-piece goal and a goalkeeping error, and then beating Belgium 1-0 in the semi-finals with another set-piece goal.


2.33pmFrance have, therefore, won all of their knockout games inside 90 minutes, which may well give them the edge against a Croatian team that has faced a much more gruelling passage through to the final in terms of time on the pitch, if not opponents.

France arguably dispatched of the tournament's most impressive team in the semi-finals when they beat Belgium in an engrossing semi-final. Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said after the game that France's tactics were "anti-football" - despite France attempting 10 more shots than the Belgians - but I'm sure no-one in France will mind a repeat performance today if it ends up with the same result.


2.36pmROUTE TO THE FINAL! Words can only do so much justice to France's journey to their World Cup final, so check out FIFA's official summary of their tournament so far here.

Can they add one final highlight - and the most important of all - onto that reel?


2.39pmTEAM NEWS!

We have some team news for you! France and Croatia have wasted no time in releasing the team sheets, and it doesn't look like there will be any Ronaldo-in-1998-esque drama today. Both sides are as expected!

FRANCE STARTING XI: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Pogba, Kante, Matuidi; Griezmann, Giroud, Mbappe
Subs: N'Zonzi, Tolisso, Kimpembe, Lemar, Dembele, Mandanda, Rami, Fekir, Sidibe, Thauvin, Mendy, Areola

CROATIA STARTING XI: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic, Modric, Brozovic; Perisic, Mandzukic, Rebic
Subs: Pivaric, Kramaric, Corluka, Badelj, Livakovic, Kovacic, Kalinic, Jedvaj, Bradaric, Caleta-Car, Pjaca


2.42pmWhat can we make of those two teams, then?

Well, as expected France are unchanged from their semi-final victory over Belgium, with Deschamps suffering from no new injury concerns ahead of this match.

Starting from the back, the French defence has been hugely impressive so far at this tournament, with Pavard establishing himself as one of the breakthrough stars of the World Cup and the likes of Varane, Umtiti and Hernandez only increasing their reputations.

Behind them if Hugo Lloris, who may be beginning to dream of holding the trophy aloft as captain. Lloris came into this World Cup off the back of a shaky season with Tottenham by his standards, but he has pulled off some incredible saves throughout - including one to deny Spurs teammate Alderweireld in the semi-finals - and is very much in the running for goalkeeper of the tournament.


2.45pmIt is the midfield which could be the key area of the game today as this French trio is far better than anything Croatia have come up against so far, meaning that their most influential players may not be able to have such a say on the game.

N'Golo Kante in particular has been impressive throughout - as he almost always is, in fairness - and he could be crucial in stopping Modric and co today. Paul Pogba was criticised regularly for his performances for Manchester United last season but has enjoyed a really good tournament too, most notably for his discipline in tracking back when needed to help out the defence.

Blaise Matuidi missed one game through suspension in the quarter-finals but returned against Belgium and was one of the best players on the park, although he was a minor injury doubt for this match following his heavy collision with Hazard. Matuidi has been cleared of concussion, though, and starts again here.


2.48pmAs if that quality wasn't enough, France also boast a fearsome front three of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud.

The latter of those has struggled in comparison to the others at this World Cup, and remarkably has failed to register a single shot on target so far, despite having 13 efforts on goal - the most without hitting the target at a single World Cup since records began in 1966.

Mbappe and Griezmann are both on three goals apiece, though, and the latter has also registered two assists meaning that if he becomes only the second man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final - after Geoff Hurst - then he would pip Harry Kane to the Golden Boot today. Griezmann has scored or assisted 11 goals in nine knockout games at major tournaments, which is more than Zidane, Platini or any other French players over the past 50 years.

Even he has had to play second fiddle to Mbappe this summer, though, with the 19-year-old favourite to win the Golden Ball. A goal today would see him become only the second teenager to score in a World Cup final - company he would share with only Pele - and he is already the highest-scoring teenager at a World Cup since Pele hit six in 1958.

Here is Mbappe's best performance of the tournament so far, against Argentina in the last 16.


2.51pmCroatia have also named an unchanged side from their semi-final victory over England, which is perhaps a little more surprising considering they have played a full 90 minutes more than France at this summer's World Cup now.

Fatigue did not appear to be an issue in the last four, though - indeed, Croatia seemed to get stronger as the match wore on - and manager Zlatko Dalic has insisted that it will not be an issue today either.

There were a number of minor injury problems in the wake of Wednesday's match, but those have all been sorted now and Dalic is able to name an unchanged XI. Ivan Perisic was one of those to be struggling - even missing training on Friday - but the Inter Milan forward, who was arguably the man of the match against England, starts today.


2.54pmPerisic scored one and set up the other in the semi-final win over England, meaning that he has now been involved in 10 goals for Croatia at major tournaments - a joint-national record alongside Davor Suker. Suker scored nine times with one assist, whereas Perisic can claim to be more rounded with six goals and four assists.

Further back, there will be plenty of eyes on Dejan Lovren this afternoon after he declared himself one of the best defenders in world football, and today he will become only the second player in history - after Thierry Henry in 2006 - to have played in the Champions League final for an English club and the World Cup final in the same year. Even so, making such a bold statement just days before coming up against Kylian Mbappe is very brave indeed!


2.57pmVida alongside Lovren has been a very steady force at this World Cup, even weighing in at the other end too, while Sime Vrsaljko and Danijel Subasic both overcame injury scares to make goal-saving contributions in the semi-final against England.

Marcelo Brozovic keeps his place in the team after impressing in that win over Gareth Southgate's side, forming that dangerous midfield alongside Rakitic and Modric once again.

It is Modric who makes this Croatian team tick, though, creating 16 chances at this World Cup, which is twice as many as any of his teammates. Modric is perhaps Mbappe's main challenger for the Golden Ball, and there has even been talk of him winning the Ballon d'Or should he couple his Champions League title with the World Cup trophy today.


3pmONE HOUR TO GO! Just one hour to go until kickoff in the 2018 World Cup final now!

The biggest challenge for Croatia this afternoon may be breaking this French defence down; they have kept four clean sheets from their six games at this World Cup and remarkably have only conceded from open play in one of those - the manic 4-3 victory over Argentina.

Those same defenders have been hugely important at the other end too, with Pavard, Varane and Umtiti all having got themselves on the scoresheet in the knockout rounds. Incidentally, the last time France had three defenders score at a World Cup was in 1998, when they lifted the trophy.


3.03pmFrance have been behind for only nine minutes and 12 seconds at this World Cup, with that short period coming during the last-16 clash with Argentina when they quickly responded, and then soon regained their lead en route to the 4-3 victory.

The first goal could be very important today, then, as Croatia are used to coming from behind, so if they were to take the lead then both they and France would be in a rather unfamiliar position.

France do know how to get the job done, though - they are unbeaten in their last 10 matches across all competitions, winning eight of those since a March defeat to Colombia, which is their only loss in 18. Indeed, another win today would make it four on the bounce for Les Bleus for the first time in more than two years.


3.06pmROUTE TO THE FINAL! Before we move on to have a look at Croatia, let's first allow the French fans to relive their semi-final victory over Belgium. "Anti-football" or not, they got the job done.


3.09pmLet's have a look at Croatia now, and it is fair to say that Zlatko Dalic's side would not have been in with such a good chance of winning the trophy for most people one month ago.

Croatia are appearing in their first ever World Cup final and are bidding to become only the ninth different team to lift the trophy, as the 13th different team to make it to the final. Indeed, Croatia are looking for their first major trophy of any kind, with their previous best finish coming in 1998 when they won the third-place playoff against Netherlands.

Croatia actually lost to France in the semi-finals of that competition, but it was their first ever appearance at a World Cup as an independent nation, so even finishing third - and boasting the top scorer in Davor Suker - was a monumental achievement.


3.12pmReaching the final this year is a huge achievement too considering they have a population of just over four million people - a third the size of Moscow alone and 13 times smaller than England.

Making it this far has been described as a sporting miracle already, and should they manage to beat France and lift the trophy then it could well go down alongside Greece winning the Euros in 2004 and Leicester City winning the Premier League as one of the great sporting stories.

That said, while Croatia are a small country - they would be the second-smallest to ever win the World Cup after Uruguay - they do possess some genuine world-class players, so in terms of personnel it is perhaps less surprising than the above two examples.


3.15pmCroatia are, however, the lowest-ranked team to have made it to the World Cup final, sitting as they do 20th in the FIFA rankings, so it is important to remember that they are massive underdogs to have made it this far.

Indeed, while they burst onto the scene in 1998 with their third-place finish, Croatia have failed to even make it past the group stages in any of their subsequent appearances at a World Cup prior to this summer. They were eliminated at the first hurdle in 2002, 2006 and 2014, failing to even qualify for the tournament in 2010.

The good news for Croatia is that the last two teams to have appeared in a World Cup for the first time have both gone on to win it - France themselves in 1998 and Spain in 2010.


3.18pmROUTE TO THE FINAL! No Croatia fan will ever forget this journey to the World Cup final, but for the rest of us here is a quick recap of just how they have come so far despite being fairly far down the list of favourites prior to the start of the tournament...


3.21pmCroatia began their campaign with a 2-0 victory over Nigeria, although that was perhaps less convincing than it appears on first glance, with Dalic's side requiring an own goal and a penalty to come out on top in that match.

Arguably the highlight of their entire World Cup came in their second game, though, as Croatia ran out 3-0 winners over the might of Argentina - Lionel Messi and all - with two of those goals coming in the final 10 minutes of the game.

Croatia then closed out the group stages by maintaining their 100% record with a 90th-minute winner against Iceland, ensuring that they finish top of Group D ahead of second-placed Argentina.


3.24pmCroatia have been less convincing in the knockout rounds so far, though, needing extra time to get through each of the last three matches and make it all the way to the World Cup final.

Indeed, a penalty shootout was required in the last 16 and quarter-finals as Croatia dispatched of Denmark and then hosts Russia, and they needed to overcome difficult moments in both games prior to the shootout too.

Denmark took the lead after only one minute in the last 16, while Croatia also missed a penalty in normal time in that match, and Russia netted a 115th-minute equaliser to force their quarter-final tie into extra time. If there is one thing this Croatia do possess, it is plenty of character.


3.27pmROUTE TO THE FINAL! Just as Kylian Mbappe's best performance of the tournament came against Argentina, so did Luka Modric's, with the Croatia captain running the show and scoring a cracking second goal as well.

Relive that memorable Croatian performance below:


3.30pmHaving been forced into penalties in the last 16 and the quarter-finals in their opening two knockout games, the expectation was that Croatia would tire against England in the semi-finals, but that did not prove to be the case.

England took the lead through Kieran Trippier after only five minutes and could well have gone on to put the game to bed before half time had Kane and Lingard converted further chances, but Croatia held on until the interval and were much the better team from that point onwards.

Ivan Perisic levelled things up after 68 minutes to send the game into extra time, and Croatia just seemed to get stronger and stronger and Mandzukic finally took advantage of England's increasingly-tired defending to sweep home a 109th-minute winner.


3.33pmCroatia are the first team to have ever reached the World Cup final despite trailing in all three of their knockout games, and could also become the first team in World Cup history to have played extra time in four matches at a single tournament should today's game also go the distance.

It must be said that they have had a fairly kind route through to the final, though, playing Denmark, Russia and England in the knockout rounds, none of whom are in the top 10 of the FIFA rankings.

Arguably Croatia's biggest test so far came against Argentina in the group stages, and they passed that with flying colours courtesy of a 3-0 victory.


3.36pmHaving reached the World Cup final, Croatia will be gutted if they don't go one step further and lift the trophy for a first time now - even if the challenge in front of them today is their biggest of the tournament so far.

The way this tournament has opened up, with most of the favourites being eliminated by other teams, has been hugely fortuitous for Croatia and they will surely never get a better chance to lift the trophy than they do now.

That is especially the case considering that their own 'golden generation' will arguably be too old in Qatar 2022, with Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic all now the wrong side of 30.


3.39pmROUTE TO THE FINAL! There have been plenty of highlights on this Croatian run to the final, but right up there will be their win over hosts Russia in the quarters, which will have been a rollercoaster of emotions.

Conceding an equaliser deep into extra time will always make it more difficult to pick yourself back up for the penalty shootout, but Croatia managed that to end the home side's World Cup run.


3.42pmCroatia may have had a fairly kind route to the final, but they can only beat the teams in front of them and they have done so in impressive fashion, with only Belgium scoring more goals and having more different goalscorers.

Croatia's 12 goals have come from eight different players, which means that they have goals throughout their team, but one area they do need to improve is at set pieces. Dalic's side have conceded from a penalty, throw-in, indirect free kick and a direct free kick at this summer's World Cup, meaning that four of the five goals they have conceded have come from set pieces.


3.45pmOne aspect which makes Croatia's run in Russia even more surprising is that manager Zlatko Dalic has only been in charge for nine months, taking over the team with just one game remaining of their qualifying campaign and immediately beating Ukraine to secure their place in the playoffs, where they overcame Greece.

The Croats had only won one of their previous seven World Cup outings prior to this tournament, but have now won six in a row including their penalty shootout and extra-time triumphs.

Croatia can perhaps expect today's game to go the same way too as the last three World Cup finals have all gone to extra time.


3.48pmROUTE TO THE FINAL! Croatia were, of course, the team to break English hearts in the semi-finals, coming from behind to win in extra time.

If you have the stomach, then you can relive the highlights of that match here:


3.50pmPREDICTION! Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff in the 2018 World Cup final, which means that it is time for a prediction!

Croatia have done brilliantly to make it this far in the tournament, but France are a step up from what they have faced so far and would have certainly taken a match against Croatia in the final if it was offered to them before the tournament. Les Bleus have been solid defensively and seem well suited to stopping Croatia's best players, so we're going for a French win.

SPORTS MOLE SAYS: France 2-0 Croatia


3.52pmThese two sides have faced each other five times in the past, and worryingly for Croatia they have not won any of the previous contests.

France have won three of them - in 1998, 1999 and 2000 - but the last two have both ended as draws, in 2004 and 2011. The most recent of those saw a goalless draw in March 2011, but hopefully we will not be in for a third successive World Cup final to end 0-0 after 90 minutes.


3.54pmTwo of the previous five meetings between the two sides have been at major tournaments, the most high-profile of which came at the 1998 World Cup when they faced off in the semi-finals.

Current France manager Didier Deschamps played the full 90 minutes in that match, but it was most notable for Lilian Thuram scoring twice as France came from a goal down to win 2-1. Remarkably, those two Thuram goals were the only ones he scored throughout his 142 international caps.


3.56pmThese two sides also faced off in the group stages of Euro 2004 when they played out a 2-2 draw, and the only meeting since then was the goalless draw in March 2011.

There is no doubt that this is by far and away the most important meeting between these two sides, though, and also the most important match in Croatia's history.


3.58pmThe players are out, the anthems have been sung and we're just about ready to get this World Cup final underway now! Before we do get started, though, let's have a quick recap of the two teams...

FRANCE STARTING XI:Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Pogba, Kante, Matuidi; Griezmann, Giroud, Mbappe

CROATIA STARTING XI: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic, Modric, Brozovic; Perisic, Mandzukic, Rebic


1 minKICKOFF:  Here we go, then! Referee Nestor Pitana gets the 2018 World Cup final underway having also blown the first whistle of this tournament 31 days ago - Croatia kick us off!

3 minCroatia are looking to press quickly off the ball here. They are trying to give France very little time on the ball all over the field, and France are struggling to come to terms with it in these opening exchanges.

5 minCroatia have made a very bright start to this match. They are buzzing about the pitch full of energy and France have been comparatively slow to get going here. The Croats are very much up for this one!

7 minThis has been a very interesting opening to this match, not how I expected it to go at all. France may find themselves having to weather an early storm here.

9 minMbappe is forced all the way back to his own byline to make a defensive challenge which puts the ball behind for a corner, and Varane clears the subsequent delivery in commanding fashion.

10 minCroatia have stolen possession off the toes of French players on three or four occasions inside the France half in this opening 10 minutes. They are sharper all over the park right now and will be delighted with how they have started this game.

11 minRakitic clips a pass over the top for Perisic, who almost brings it down brilliantly inside the box having got the wrong side of his marker. However, the ball just squirms away from him and goes behind for a goal kick.

13 minFrance are struggling to get anything going at the moment, with the likes of Mbappe, Griezmann and Giroud barely having a touch of the ball in an attacking sense so far. Les Bleus are looking to play on the counter-attack, but it hasn't worked in the opening stages.

15 minBig chance for Croatia to create their first opening as Perisic escapes down the left flank, bursting forward into space and looking up to see Mandzukic in the middle. However, Perisic cannot produce the required cross, with Umtiti getting in a good position to clear the danger.

17 minReally good tracking from Rakitic, who follows Giroud all the way and gets an important foot to the ball. Rebic has also come back to help his teammate out and Croatia are once again able to clear the danger.

18 minBetter from France as they come forward and keep Croatia under some sustained pressure for the first time. It eventually ends with Griezmann going down softly to give France a free kick in a promising position...

18 minGOAL! France 1-0 Croatia (Mario Mandzukic, own goal)

18 minFrance have been on the back foot throughout the opening stages of this match, but they have just taken the lead with their first real attack!

Mandzukic was the hero in extra time against England, but he is the villain now as he inadvertently glances Griezmann's free kick into his own net! The striker could not get high enough to clear the danger and just helped the ball on its way past a helpless Subasic.

Mario Mandzukic scores an own goal during the World Cup final between France and Croatia on July 15, 2018© Reuters


20 minAn unwanted slice of history for Mandzukic...



21 minCHANCE! Half a chance for Croatia to respond immediately as they win a free kick in a good crossing position. Vida meets it with a header, but he cannot keep his effort down.

23 minBrilliant piece of defending from Vida just as France looked as though they might be in once again. The ball was slipped through to Mbappe, who has a man in support, but Vida slides in with a perfectly-timed challenge to steal possession.

24 minCHANCE! This is another half-chance by Rakitic's standards and he gets on the end of a drifted cross towards the edge of the box. It would be one of the great World Cup final goals if it comes off as Rakitic goes for a first-time left-footed volley, but he gets it all wrong.

26 minLook away Croatia fans - here is that opening goal, which came completely against the run of play...



27 minYELLOW CARD! Kante picks up the first yellow card of the final with a cynical trip on Perisic.

28 minGOAL! France 1-1 Croatia (Ivan Perisic)

28 minWe could be in for a classic here, folks! Ten minutes after falling behind, Croatia are level through Perisic, who has really come into his own in the past two games!

France are unable to clear their lines from a cross into the box and Vida knocks the ball back to the Inter Milan man, who skips away from his marker before lashing his finish past Lloris, via a deflection off the thigh of Varane.

Ivan Perisic celebrates his equaliser during the World Cup final between France and Croatia on July 15, 2018© Reuters


30 minCould France once again fall foul of the exception to this rule?



32 minThis opening half an hour of the World Cup final has flown by, and Croatia deserve that equaliser for the way they have played so far. It is poised very nicely indeed and I would be surprised if there were no more twists and turns before the end of the 90 minutes.

34 minCHANCE! This is a chance for France! A corner into the near post is completely missed by Matuidi when a glancing header could have caused them plenty of problems.

35 minWe have a VAR review in the World Cup final! The ball struck the hand of Perisic just behind Matuidi, and Nestor Pitana is going to have a look on the screen himself! It definitely struck the hand, but Perisic did not know much about it.

36 minPENALTY TO FRANCE!

38 minGOAL! France 2-1 Croatia (Antoine Griezmann, pen)

38 minCool as you like from Antoine Griezmann! The French forward has to wait an age to take the penalty after a VAR review and subsequent Croatian protests, but Griezmann makes no mistake from 12 yards.

The Atletico Madrid man waits for Subasic to go, and then just rolls it into the opposite corner calmly. Advantage France again!


40 minCHANCE! Croatia almost respond quickly once again as a cross from the left finds Rebic, but he completely mis-hits his effort and it rolls tamely into the arms of Lloris, with Mandzukic unable to react in time.

42 minLet's hope we haven't seen all of the goals yet either!



44 minThe late pressure in this first half is coming from Croatia as they win a couple of corners in quick succession, neither of which France deal with very well. They eventually scramble the ball clear, but that was far from convincing.

45+1 minThere will be three minutes of added time at the end of this first half, which has flown by.

45+1 minAnother corner for Croatia causes yet more problems, but Vida overshoots his run and has his back to goal when it arrives.

45+2 minThere is thunder rumbling around the Luzhniki Stadium as the dark clouds begin to gather. There is a storm a-coming!

45+3 minFrance are really struggling with these aerial balls into the box. The latest of which from Vrsaljko looks destined for the head of Perisic, but the winger seems to hold back and it goes through to safety. That could have been a huge chance!

45+3 minHALF TIME: France 2-1 Croatia

4.56pmThe first half comes to an end in the 2018 World Cup final, and it is one which has gone very quickly with a bit of everything so far.

It is France who lead the way after the halfway stage, but both of their goals have had an air of controversy about them. Croatia have arguably been the better team so far, but they will once again have to come from behind if they are to cap this dream run to the final by winning the trophy.


4.58pmThe opening goal arrived completely against the run of play after 18 minutes when Mario Mandzukic became an unwanted trivia question, scoring the very first own goal in a World Cup final.

The initial decision to award a free kick was a controversial one, with Griezmann going down easily before dusting himself off to take the free kick himself. The striker's delivery was a good one, and Mandzukic could only glance his defensive header past his own keeper and into the top corner.


5pmFrance's lead lasted only 10 minutes before Croatia got a deserved equaliser shortly before the half-hour mark, with Perisic slamming home from just inside the area after France had failed to clear their lines from a corner.

Perisic had been one of Croatia's brightest stars of the opening stages so it was perhaps fitting that he got the goal, skipping past Kante before firing the ball into the far corner beyond Lloris via a deflection from Varane.


5.02pmHowever, just 10 more minutes passed before France were back in the lead, and this time there was even more debate surrounding it when referee Nestor Pitana awarded a penalty via VAR - having previously ruled no penalty.

It was a harsh decision even via VAR, with Perisic being adjudged to have handled the ball behind Matuidi, who should have done better at the near post himself. Griezmann stepped up to the resulting spot kick, though, and made no mistake.


46 minKICKOFF: France get us back underway for the second half of this World Cup final, and they lead despite all of the major stats being against them. Indeed, the French have only had one shot all game, despite scoring two goals!

47 minSAVE! Griezmann tries his luck from range, but his effort is tame and easy for Subasic to collect. One more goal for France may just put this game to bed.

48 minSAVE! Croatia go up the other end and Rakitic plays a clever ball into the path of Rebic, who has to take the shot first time. He gets a good effort on goal too, and it takes a fingertip save from Lloris to tip it over the crossbar.

49 minCroatia are looking dangerous at the start of the second half too! A long ball forward almost releases Perisic, but Varane gets a toe to it and then Lloris comes out of his area to chest the ball past the Croatia forward.

50 minAmbitious from Vrsaljko as a corner is cleared as far as him and he tries a Paul Scholes-esque volley from 30 yards. He connects with it well enough, but the direction is all off.

52 minCHANCE! It is impossible to defend against the pace of Mbappe at times. Here he races around the outside Vida on his way into the box before drilling a low strike towards goal, but Subasic is quick off his line and thwarts the French winger.

54 minRakitic clips an aerial ball into the box towards Mandzukic, who challenges Lloris in the air. Lloris gets something on it, but not much and it goes behind for a corner, which is then overturned for a free kick.

55 minFRANCE SUB: Very interesting change from France here as Kante departs just 10 minutes into the second half. Kante is on a yellow card and had not been having his best game in truth, and he is replaced by Steven N'Zonzi.

57 minFrance enjoy a rare spell of possession, but Mbappe then tries to take the defence on and is quickly dispossessed. It is Croatia who look most like going on to get the game's next goal right now!

59 minGOAL! France 3-1 Croatia (Paul Pogba)

59 minThat could be the goal that wraps up the World Cup for France! They have the two-goal cushion, and it is a long, long way back for Croatia now!

Pogba starts it all off with a lovely ball through for Mbappe, who dips inside before cutting the ball back for Griezmann. Griezmann then tees up Pogba, who sees his first effort blocked before curling his second attempt past a wrong-footed Subasic with his left boot.


61 minFrance can smell blood here! Croatia struggle to clear their lines from a cross into the box and Giroud acrobatically steers it back across goal towards Griezmann, but Brozovic comes flying back to put it behind for a corner.

63 minHere is that third France goal, which saw Pogba become the first ever Manchester United player to score in a World Cup final...



65 minThat third goal finally appears to have taken the wind out of the sails of Croatia. It has taken a lot, but Croatia seem to be out of belief right now.

65 minGOAL! France 4-1 Croatia (Kylian Mbappe)

65 minIt is well and truly game over now! Kylian Mbappe joins one of the most exclusive clubs in football, joining Pele as the only teenagers to have scored in a World Cup final!

It is a brilliant goal from the youngster too. He is given the time and space to pick his spot from 25 yards out, and he drills a low strike into the bottom corner past the keeper.


67 minFrance are in complete control now. This is a harsh scoreline on Croatia, it must be said, but France look like they have more goals in them yet. Griezmann and Mbappe may even have one eye on that Golden Boot.

69 minGOAL! France 4-2 Croatia (Mario Mandzukic)

69 minNow then! Perhaps this one isn't over just yet!

It is an absolute horror show from Hugo Lloris in the final of the World Cup as he takes far too long on the ball and tries a suicidal pass past Mandzukic, who just sticks out a leg to send the ball into the net. It is one of the most bizarre goals you will ever see at this level!


71 minWe will bring you that Lloris howler a little later, but for now here is Mbappe's goal which put France three ahead...



71 minCROATIA SUB: A change for Croatia here as Andrej Kramaric replaces Rebic.

73 minFRANCE SUB: France respond with a change of their own as Corentin Tolisso replaces Matuidi.

75 min

77 minCroatia are seeing more of the ball now, as you would expect, but France have proven themselves good at seeing these types of games out at this World Cup and Croatia are beginning to run out of time here. It is all about game management now.

78 minSHOT! Rakitic tries his luck from outside the area as the ball falls to him, but he drags his effort wide of the target with Lloris watching it all the way.

80 minCroatia are enjoying all of the possession and territory now, with France defending very deep and simply trying to keep their opponents at bay. A goal for Croatia now would make things very interesting indeed.

81 minFRANCE SUB: Another change for France here as Nabil Fekir replaces Giroud.

82 minCROATIA SUB: Croatia also make a change as Marko Pjaca comes on for Strinic.

84 minI promised you a clip of that Lloris howler, and here it is in all its 'glory'. A moment to forget, but I'm sure he won't be thinking of it if he lifts the trophy aloft!



86 minJust four minutes remaining of this match - and this World Cup - now, and it looks as though it is all over. You can never be too sure at this World Cup, but France have done a very good job of seeing this game out.

88 min'Allez Les Bleus' rings around the Luzhniki Stadium as the fans make themselves heard with only two minutes remaining now. France are heading for their second World Cup title!

89 minSHOT! Rakitic tries to pull something out of the bag from range, but his effort flies a long way high and wide.

90+1 minThere will be five minutes of added time at the end of this match.

90+2 minYELLOW CARD! Vrsaljko goes into the book for a rash challenge on his Atletico teammate Griezmann.

90+3 minCHANCE! The free kick is floated into an unmarked Pogba, but he completely misses the ball when he should have scored!

90+5 minFULL TIME: France 4-2 Croatia

90+5 minFRANCE WIN THE 2018 WORLD CUP!

6.06pmThere is jubilation in the French camp as they are crowned world champions for the second time!

It is one of the best finals in recent memory at the end of one of the best World Cups we have ever seen, and it will be Hugo Lloris who lifts the trophy at the end of it all.

This final had a bit of everything - an own goal, a VAR-awarded penalty and a goalkeeping howler - and it was a fitting end to what has been a fantastic month of football.


6.08pmThe opening goal came against the run of play for France, with Griezmann swinging a free kick into the box with Mario Mandzukic could only glance into his own net. Ivan Perisic deservedly levelled things up for Croatia, but then the moment of controversy came, with France being awarded a harsh penalty after lengthy deliberations. Griezmann went on to score the penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way to take France into half time ahead.

Further goals from Pogba and Mbappe saw France effectively put the game to bed before Lloris's howler gifted Mandzukic a goal and gave Croatia a glimmer of hope, but France safely saw the game out.


6.10pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole throughout this unforgettable World Cup, and congratulations to France for winning it with a thrilling victory over Croatia in the final today. I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!


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Peru's Pedro Gallese looks dejected as France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates scoring their first goal on June 21, 2018
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City86202131820
2Chelsea86201851320
3Liverpool86201531220
4Arsenal86021910918
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs8602157818
6Bournemouth85121612416
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves843196315
8Manchester UnitedMan Utd84131314-113
9Watford84131112-113
10Leicester CityLeicester84041412212
11Everton83321312112
12Burnley82241012-28
13Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton8224913-48
14Crystal Palace821559-47
15West Ham UnitedWest Ham8215813-57
16Southampton8125614-85
17Fulham8125921-125
18Huddersfield TownHuddersfield8035417-133
19Newcastle UnitedNewcastle8026613-72
20Cardiff CityCardiff8026417-132

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