Why it become a classic

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Mario Mandzukic of Croatia scores an own goal to put France in front 1-0 during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final. Picture: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images


IT WAS the World Cup final that had everything.

Six goals, a goalkeeper howler, own goal, video referee controversy, the emergence of a new star … and even some pitch invaders.

France has won its second World Cup after the 4-2 win against Croatia this morning, adding to the title won on home soil in 1998.

The game was the perfect end to the World Cup that has produced some scintillating football over the past month.

France led 2-1 at halftime after a Mario Mandzukic own goal and an Antoine Griezmann VAR penalty on Sunday, with Ivan Perisic briefly bringing first-time finalists Croatia level.

Quickfire strikes by Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe midway through the second half put France on course for the title but Mandzukic was gifted a goal by French keeper Hugo Lloris to set up a nervous last 20 minutes.

Here are the reasons why the final will be remembered as a classic.

GOALS, GOALS AND MORE GOALS

Goals are hard to come by in World Cup finals. There had been just six goals in the past four World Cup finals.

But in Moscow that all went out the window.

France has been tough to breakdown when in front, so Mandzukic’s own goal could have led to a dour affair.

Instead a wonderful goal from Perisic and then a controversial penalty to Griezmann opened the game up before halftime.

It was the first World Cup final to feature six goals since England beat West Germany 4-2 in 1966 (but that was after extra time).

You have to go back to 1958 when Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 for a final with more goals in just 90 minutes.

VAR REARS ITS UGLY HEAD AGAIN

Was it a penalty or not? And did it change the course of the game?

With Croatia back in the game at 1-all in the first half, France was awarded a penalty after goalscorer Perisic was found to have handballed from a Griezmann corner.

There was no doubt the ball touched his hand, but debate still raged as to whether it was a deliberate handball.

And if the referee waving play on to start with was a fair and obvious error — which is when the Video Assistant Referee is meant to get involved.

SBS commentator Martin Tyler said: “You would say it is the kind of penalty decision that would not have been given before VAR and whether that’s what we have to get used to now, well, maybe many of you think that’s the right way.”

But other former players and commentators were not convinced it was the right call.

Football journalist Daniel Storey said the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee meant that the handball rule needed to be changed.

“I think I’ve said this 100 times to increasingly bored friends during this World Cup, but watching football in slow-motion distorts everything,” Storey tweeted.

“VAR has altered the rules on handballs without the wording being changed.”

GOALKEEPER HOWLER

What is a classic game without a goalkeeping howler?

France captain Hugo Lloris probably won’t want to see this again, as his error handed Mandzukic an easy goal to give Croatia a chance at 4-2.

A simple back-pass found its way to the shot-stopper and he trapped it, then looked to change his mind at the last second about what he wanted to do. Rather than clear the ball, he tried to poke it with the outside of his left foot only for the ball to hit Mandzukic’s boot and rebound past him for a 4-2 scoreline.

A NEW STAR EMERGES

Kylian Mbappe and France put on a thrilling show in winning the World Cup title.

The 19-year-old Mbappe became only the second teenager after Pele to score in a World Cup final, helping France beat Croatia 4-2 on Monday morning.

Mbappe put in a star performance in France’s 4-3 second round win against Argentina, but against Croatia he produced it in the final.

And he has already achieved something that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have not — a World Cup victory.

Speaking on SBS after the game, former Socceroo David Zdrilic the challenge was not for Mbappe to kick-on in his career.

“Quite often you see players who stand out at World Cups and don’t go on and then produce that same level for their clubs,” Zdrilic said.

“You are talking about Messi and Ronaldo. They are like absolute freaks. And to have them both in the same era is just incredible”

AND THE PITCH INVADERS

The final was briefly interrupted when three intruders ran onto the pitch before they were hauled off by stewards.

The Pussy Riot punk band, whose members were jailed for staging a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a church, said on social media that they were responsible for the pitch invasion.

Olga Kurachyova, a member of Pussy Riot, told Reuters by telephone she was one of the people who had invaded the pitch. She said she was being detained at a Moscow police station.

In the second half of the match, three people wearing white shirts and black trousers ran out onto the pitch from the area behind the French goal.

A fourth person tried to run onto the pitch but was tackled on the sidelines.

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren was having none of it and helped drag one of the protesters off the pitch.

– With wires



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