French President Emmanuel Macron watched on from the stands as his national team turned in one of the best attacking displays a World Cup final has ever seen, defeating stubborn Croatia 4-2 in the final.
A Mario Mandzukic own goal and an Antoine Griezmann penalty in the first half and superb range strikes from Kylian Mbappé and Paul Pogba in the second sealed the French win, which was punctuated by goals from Ivan Perisic and Mandzukic for Croatia.
France were gunning for their second ever World Cup win at the time the opening ceremony came to an end whilst Croatia looked for their first — hoping to join the exclusive club of only eight nations who have ever won the world’s most prestigious football competition.
Both nation’s Presidents were in attendance, youthful Macron from France and Croatia’s darling female President — Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović — decked out in her chequered red and white attire as always. Fifa President Gianni Infantino and Russia’s omnipotent Vladimir Putin also made an appearance for the biggest game in world football.
The game itself started at a brisk pace with Croatia all over France, taking over the initiative from the get go this time instead of being their usual initially passive self as they’d been throughout the knockout stages.
However it was France who took the lead in the 18th minute, after Antoine Griezmann’s freekick was headed into his own net by semi final hero Mandzukic.
Croatia once again fought admirably from a deficit, equalizing just 10 minutes later via Perisic’s scorcher of a shot.
A moment of controversy a few minutes before half time irrevocably changed the course of the game as Perisic quickly went from hero to zero. He handled a corner kick whilst attempting a clearance and after consultation with VAR, the referee decided it was a deliberate handball and awarded a spot kick.
Up stepped Griezmann, who kept up his flawless record for country from the spot.
The second half became an all French affair as Croatia’s deflated players could not handle a red hot French attack. Quickfire goals from Mbappé and Pogba put the game beyond doubt, with even a moment of madness from goalie Lloris gifting Croatia a second not being enough to halt the French juggernaut.
In the end, despite many pre tournament favourites falling early by the roadside, the 2018 World Cup was still won by one pre tournament favourite and a real heavyweight in France, who’ve now played in three of the last six World Cup final games — winning two and losing in 2006.