|I. Perisic (68′)||K. Trippier (5′)
|M. Mandzukic (109′)|
After a dramatic turnaround, Croatia have reached the dream final of FIFA World Cup. Kieran Trippier’s wonderful goal falls into the defeating side in the scoreline. Mario Mandzukic becomes the ultimate hero by scoring the match-decider goal. Croatia will play their first World Cup final against France on 15th July.
England started the game with a tremendous goal. On 4th minute, Modric fouled Alli on the edge of the box. A dream strike for a full-back gave England the lead on 5th minute. That was a stunner from Trippier. He curled the ball from a dangerous area. Subasic couldn’t do anything to stop that because the placement was more than perfect. Hitting right over the wall and keeping it down into the target- a very difficult combination for any footballer. It seemed like England would get the advantage for a long time, because they created more chances in the first half.
Maguire’s header narrowly missed the target on 15th minute. But the most terrible mistake was done by Kane on 30th. He was supposed to get that goal easily. But he was denied by Subasic on the first attempt. Then he got an open-goal chance from a slightly tight angle. But it should’ve been sent into the net quite easily. Kane hit the near post. 6 minutes later, unmarked Lingard got the ball on the edge of the box. He couldn’t keep it in line and missed the chance.
Croatia couldn’t get any real chance in the first half. On 68th minute, Ivan Perisic guided Vrsaljko’s cross into the bottom corner. He could score another one after 4 minutes. He fired a left-footed shot to the far post. It vibrated the goalpost as well as the heart of England team, but remained outside the goal. On 83rd minute, Mandzukic’s shot was saved by Pickford.
If the first half was England’s, the second half was controlled by Croatia. For consecutive third time, Croatia played 120 minutes, and again won it. But on 9th minute of the extra time, Stones could make it tougher for them. His header from Trippier’s cross was bound to the goal as it had beaten the keeper. But Vrsaljko saved his team by heading the ball out from the goal-line. Another great save came from the English keeper Pickford, on the 17th minute of the extra time. Mandzukic almost got the goal there, but Pickford crucially stopped him by spreading his body behind the ball. But 2 minutes later, Pickford was not so lucky. Mandzukic deposited the ball with a cool-headed shot.
That goal from Mandzukic ended the world cup journey of England. Croatia won another tight battle. They will have the confidence from this match for overcoming any condition in the big final against fantastic France. England could consider themselves unlucky again. this match could go either way. They will face Belgium in a ‘worthless’ third-place selection match on 14th July.
France’s Triumph: Second World Cup Title
|M. Mandzukic (OG, 18′)||I. Perisic (28′)|
|A. Griezmann (P., 38′)||M. Mandzukic (69′)|
|P. Pogba (59′)|
|K. Mbappe (65′)|
Didier Deschamps is now only the third man in world cup history who win the title as a player and a coach. 20 years ago, it was his motherland where they raised the trophy after beating Brazil in the final. Today, at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, his team fetched a tremendous victory against a dream team of Croatia. This is a glorious moment, the ‘greatest show on earth’ ends with a bunch of records.
First part of the night was Croatia’s part. They rarely lost the possession of the ball and built up some very good attacks. They almost got a goal on 11th minute when Perisic got a lofted pass from Strinic inside the box. But he couldn’t get enough time to control that.
The moment of the most importance was the free-kick for France which was ‘awarded’ for a foul just outside the box. Honestly, Griezmann fell on the ground for no serous reason and won the free-kick. But the most terrible thing happened after the free-kick. Griezmann curved his shot into the middle of the box and the man who jumped highest was Mandzukic. He couldn’t clear it and just managed to deflect it into their own goal. It was the twelfth suicide goal of the tournament, which is a record. But this goal is the only own goal scored in world cup final match. Mandzukic surely doesn’t like to create this type of records.
But the lead didn’t last long for France. Perisic scored a stunning goal which gave their hope back. It was only 28 minutes on the referee’s clock.
Though Croatia controlled most of the time of the game, France utilized their all possible chances. Another record, a penalty from VAR review is a new history in world cup final match. Replays confirmed that Perisic took his hand away from the body and the ball deflected from the hand. The referee saw that many times and then blew the whistle signaling the penalty spot. Griezmann converted it into another goal deceiving the goalkeeper Subasic. First half ended with 2-1 scoreline.
But France took the advantage of the tiredness of Croatian players who played for six hours in last three matches. On 59th minute, they made it 3-1. Teenage sensation Mbappe crossed the ball in and Griezmann passed that to Pogba. His first shot was blocked but he attempted the second one and gets the goal. 6 minutes later, Mbappe himself sealed the match by scoring the fourth.
On 69th minute, Lloris’s terrible mistake caused a ridiculous goal against France. Mandzukic, spreading his leg, surprisingly got a goal from a mistaken shot of French keeper. This goal made a new record. This match is now the highest scoring world cup final. Before that, Argentina beat West Germany by 3-2 at the final of 1986.
France have won their second trophy and it’s under the training of 1998’s captain. Deschamps is certainly going to be the hero again, even though supporters didn’t want him to continue as the coach.
The golden ball is achieved by Luka Modric, the captain of unlucky Runners-up team. The golden boot is gifted to the England captain Harry Kane for scoring 6 goals. Thibaut Courtois wins the Golden glove. The best young player is none other than magnificent wonder-boy Mbappe. Spain get the Fair Play award. An award is never given, a thankful applause for the hosts for giving a mesmerizing tournament. See you World Cup, 4 years later, in Qatar.
Belgium Claimed the Third Spot
|T. Meunier (4′)|
|E. Hazard (82′)|
Belgium ended the world cup with a victory which doesn’t really matter in the race of the title. They finished with their best position in a world cup. They won the play off for the third place against England. Meunier and Hazard scored for their team. Harry Kane remained pale in this match as well. Still he is the highest goal-scorer of the tournament.
Belgium got a flying start in the match. Just 4 minutes after the kick off, Chadli sent a brilliant cross to Meunier, who beat a couple of defenders to reach the ball and poked into the net.
Belgium dominated the play from the beginning. De Bruine was denied by Pickford. Then Lukaku got a chance which could’ve been a goal. He just carried the ball to much and Pickford did no mistake again.
The mos goal-scorer of the tournament so far, Kane, missed a good chance on 23rd minute. Then Belgium missed some opportunities to double their lead. But an equalizer was almost brought by Dier, on 70th minute. He chipped the ball over Courtois who was coming forward. Alderweireld somehow managed to clear that ball from inches outside the goal.
Meunier almost got his second one, on 79th minute. But Pickford’s brilliant save stopped his powerful volley which would’ve been a goal in 95 percent occasions.
The last nail in England’s coffin was put by Eden Hazard on 82nd minute. His goal doubled their lead and the match ended with the same scoreline.
Belgium beat England twice in this world cup. In the group round, they won by the minimum difference. Only one match remaining in the world cup, that’s the final.
After few hours, France or Croatia will celebrate the historical victory. They’ll remain ‘the world champions’ until the final match of world cup 2022 in Qatar.
France Again, or a New Era?
France won the world cup once, at their home-ground, defeating Brazil by 3-0. They got another chance to win the cup after 8 years. Italy won the final after the penalty shoot-out. Most importantly, Zinedine Zidane was sent off by showing red card. But this year, they have the best opportunity to win the best trophy of the football world.
Griezmann is playing so well throughout the tournament. Matuidi or Pogba can be lethal for any opponents anytime. They have a quality defending side including Varane, Umtiti, Pavard. Mbappe has been outstanding, he might be considered as the most consistent young striker of this world cup. Lloris has saved them from any kind of disaster in the crucial times.
On the other hand, Croatia never qualified for the world cup final before this time. But a brilliant combination between the experienced players has paid off. They are marching towards glory. Modric, Mandzukic, Rakitic and others including the savior Subasic are the light-bearers of the Croatian dream. They played semifinal in their first presence in the world cup as a independent nation. But the next 3 times they played the main round of the tournament, they had eliminated from the first round.
ROAD TO FINAL
|2-0 (vs Nigeria)||2-1 (vs Australia)|
|3-0 (vs Argentina)||1-0 (vs Peru)|
|2-1 (vs Iceland)||0-0 (vs Denmark)|
|1(3)-1(2) (vs Denmark)||4-3 (vs Argentina)|
|2(4)-2(3) (vs Russia)||2-0 (vs Uruguay)|
|2-1 (vs England)||1-0 (vs Belgium)|
France and Croatia met once in the world cup finals. On 8th July 1998, host France won that match by 2-1. Like the 2nd semi-final of this world cup, the losers got the lead first. But two strikes from Lilian Thuram broke the dream of Croatia and kept their own flag waving.
Can France repeat that history and achieve their second trophy? Will Croatia let them do that? They have all the abilities to win their first ever world cup. We have to wait, not a long time, till 15 July. 90 minutes, or 120, or a penalty shoot-out in Moscow will decide the kings of the world football for next four years.