MOSCOW — The first France goal came off a Croatian’s head. The second was scored with the aid of the Argentina referee, and became the first video-assistant-reviewed goal in World Cup history.
But the next two — hard low shots by the young French stars Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappé — confirmed what everyone knew even before France polished off its 4-2 victory on Sunday: France was the best team in the field this summer in Russia, and for that reason — a potent mix of greatness, grit and good fortune — they are world champions again.
The title is France’s first since it won on home soil in 1998, and it ended a thrilling run by Croatia. The Croats survived three consecutive extra-time games and two penalty shootouts to reach their first final, and they even had the better of the game on Sunday .
But France fought Croatia off when it had to and punished it when it could. And when the final whistle blew, its players circled the field in glee, piled atop one another, shared embraces with their coach, Didier Deschamps, a midfielder on the 1998 team who became the third man to win the World Cup as a player and head coach.
FULL TIME: FRANCE WINS!
France has won its second World Cup and first away from home!
Standouts for France in its victory: Paul Pogba advanced the ball 153 meters in the game (and got a goal too). Benjamin Pavard had 11 clearances, many when Croatia was looking very threatening.
90’ +5: Deschamps’s Glory
Mario Zagallo, Brazil. Franz Beckenauer, Germany. And now Didier Deschamps is on the verge of becoming the third man to coach and play for a World Cup winner.
France is booting the ball upfield and watching the clock.
90’ +1: France Ready to Celebrate
Five minutes of extra time before France can grab the trophy.
90’: Killing Time
France gets a free kick at midfield, which mostly is of benefit to kill time. Five minutes of injury time to come.
89’: France Sits Back
Croatia continues to dominate possession, as France sits back. Rakitic tries a couple of very long-distance shots, but they go high.
84’: Pogba Stays Down
Pogba down in a heap after that free kick, and Croatia’s fans are absolutely certain he’s milking time off the clock. They may not be wrong; France has done a ton of this in ushering out other teams.