Messi, Argentina beat France in penalty shootout for third World Cup

Lionel Messi of Argentina lifts the FIFA World Cup trophy with his teammates at Lusail Stadium in Lusail City, Qatar, on Sunday. Photo by Chris Brunskill/UPI
Lionel Messi of Argentina lifts the FIFA World Cup trophy with his teammates at Lusail Stadium in Lusail City, Qatar, on Sunday. Photo by Chris Brunskill/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Lionel Messi wrapped his hands around the once-elusive World Cup trophy, ending his final run at the soccer tournament with tear-flooded eyes as Argentina beat France in the Qatar 2022 finale Sunday in Lusail, Qatar.

Argentine defender Gonzalo Montiel iced the victory when he netted the final attempt of a penalty shootout, sending a shot into the left side of the net. Argentine players then swarmed Messi, who scored twice, in celebration of the dramatic victory.


"We had the game under control, but we were doomed to suffer," Argentine goalie Emiliano Martinez told Fox, when asked about the match, which featured two halves of extra time before Argentina's 4-2 shootout triumph.

"France almost scored a winner too, but thank God we are here. The World Cup is something I have been dreaming of. I have no words to express what I'm feeling."


French forward Kylian Mbappe scored three times in the loss. He became the second player in history to log a hat trick in a World Cup final, joining England's Geoff Hurst, who scored three times against Germany in 1966.

Mbappe claimed the Golden Boot, the award give to the tournament's top scorer. He scored eight goals in seven games. Messi, who logged seven goals and three assists, was given the Golden Ball -- the World Cup's MVP award.

He played every minute of Argentina's seven games, fueling the country's run to a third World Cup title and first since 1986.

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"I'm proud," Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni told Fox. "Today I am liberated. This team gives me so much pride."

The win also denying France's quest to become the first country in more than 60 years to repeat as champions.

The nearly 99,000 fans in attendance at Lusail Stadium watched Argentina dominate for the majority of regulation.

France did not register a shot in the first half or for most of the second half. Mbappe hit the first French attempt toward the net in the 71st minute. Messi gave Argentine a 1-0 lead with a penalty kick in the 23rd minute.


French winger Ousmane Dembele brought down Argentine winger Angel Di Maria inside the box to prompt the first score. Messi then stepped up to the spot and smacked the attempt into the right side of the net as French goalie Hugo Lloris dove to the other side.

Argentina stole the ball in the 36th minute to spark a second score. Messi used an outside-the-foot touch to tap the ball up the right flank to ignite the transition. Fellow forward Julian Alvarez then used his first touch to push a pass toward midfield.

Outside midfielder Alexis Mac Allister ran by several defenders and caught up to the pass. He reached the box and then fired a pass to his left. Di Maria came running into the area and used his first touch to hit a left-footed shot over Lloris and into the right side of the net.

Argentina, which appeared more energized than the French side for the majority of regulation, held the two-goal lead through halftime. Mbappe then came alive with two scores in less than 100 seconds to force extra time.

Fullback Nicolas Otamendi brought down Randal Kolo Muani in the box to prompt a France penalty kick in the 79th minute. Mbappe then calmly stepped to the line and rocketed the attempt into the left side of the net to cut the deficit in half.


He found the net again in the 81st minute. Kingsley Coman stripped Messi on the right flank to start that sequence. Mbappe then brought down a cross on the left side of the field and headed a pass to Marcus Thuram, who sent back a quick feed.

Mbappe finished the play when he struck a volley for a powerful shot into the right side of the net.

Messi went on to get off one last attempt for Argentina in regulation, but Lloris saved that 20-yard rip to force extra time.

Argentina dominated the first half of extra time, but the French defense denied several close attempts to keep the score tied.

Messi then scored a go-ahead goal in the 108th minute. Lautauro Martinez took the first shot of that sequence, but Lloris blocked the attempt. The deflection sprayed out to Messi, who finished with a point-blank range shot past Lloris.

France equalized in the 118th minute when Mbappe converted a penalty kick, prompted by a handball in the box from Montiel. Mbappe placed that shot in the left side of the net.

Both sides again had chances to score the game-winner in the second half of extra time, but neither could find the net, prompting the penalty kick session.


Mbappe started the session with a shot into the left side of the net, which was nearly saved by goalie Emiliano Martinez.

Messi followed with a slow roller past Lloris to even the shootout. Martinez then saved France's second attempt, which was taken by Coman.

Paulo Dybala netted Argentina's second attempt. Aurelien Tchouameni hit France's next shot wide. Argentine Leandro Paredes then smacked then next try into the back of the net, but France's Kolo Muani also made his attempt.

Montiel then iced the game for the Argentines with a strike into the left side of the net as Lloris dove toward the opposite post. Argentine players then raced to embrace Messi and celebrate the country's third title.

Fans cheer on World Cup contenders in Qatar

A Morocco fan supports his team while wearing a costume during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Semi-Final match between Morocco and France at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, on December 14, 2022. Photo by Chris Brunskill/UPI | License Photo

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