France were unable to retain their World Cup crown, losing on penalties to Argentina, in what might have been the greatest World Cup final of all time.
Argentina started strong and opened the scoring midway through the half via a Lionel Messi spot kick after Ousmane Dembele was judged to have tripped ex-Manchester United winger, Angel di Maria.
Di Maria then doubled Argentina’s lead after a sumptuous team move was finished off with aplomb by the Juventus man. Argentina took the two goal lead into half time, with France barely having a kick.
The lethargic nature of the French resulted in Deschamps making two changes five minutes before the break, hooking Ousmane Dembele and Oliver Giroud for Marcus Thuram and Kolo Muani – in a move that would prove decisive.
The second half continued in much the same vein with Argentina controlling the game and France looking devoid of ideas and energy.
But, enter Kylian Mbappe. Anonymous for the first 80 minutes, the Manchester United target buried a penalty earned by Kolo Mouani, before smashing home a rasping volley to drag France level and overtake Lionel Messi in the race for the golden boot, in the most incredible 60 seconds of World Cup final drama.
Mbappe looked all but out of ideas as Argentina contained and controlled proceedings for the majority of the 90 minutes. However, the brilliant brace rubber stamped just why the PSG man is considered the best in the world.
And there was more to come. Much more. Extra-time saw Argentina wipe their bloody nose to take the lead again through the mercurial Lionel Messi, who bundled home with 10 just minutes remaining. But Mbappe wasn’t done yet. With three minutes left Mbappe saw his shot charged down with a hand of Gonzalo Montiel, giving him the chance to level again from the spot. He did. 3-3.
Penalties were taken in front of the Argentine fans and it was they who were celebrating at the end with France missing two of their first three to gift Argetina, and Messi, the crown.
On the back of his moments of magic, not just in the final but in the tournament as a whole, the prospect of seeing Mbappe at United is now even more of a mouthwatering prospect.
Mbappe has been linked with a sensational move to Old Trafford, as United accelerate their efforts to sign a striker, after terminating Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract at the end of last month.
The transfer is an unlikely one but if Erik ten Hag and the United hierarchy could somehow convince the 23-year-old into a move to Manchester, it would transform the attacking firepower at Ten Hag’s disposal.
United centre-half Raphael Varane also completed the 120 plus minutes for France, despite being one of the players who fell victim to the virus which swept through the French camp before the game, which might have explained the lacklustre opening from the his side.
Erik ten Hag will be hoping Varane can shake the disappointment of the defeat, as he will be needed if United are to achieve their goals come the end of the season .
Club football returns for United on Wednesday night, with the visit of Burnley in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.