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Published On: Mon, Jul 16th, 2018

France breaks 20-year jinx to emerge World Champion

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•As Croatia’s Modric wins Golden Ball, Goal Keeper Courtois – Golden Glove, England’s Kane – Golden Boot

By Albert Akota

France won the Fifa World Cup for the second time by overcoming Croatia’s bold challenge in a thrilling final in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium yesterday.
Didier Deschamps’ side repeated the success on home soil at France ‘98 by a margin that hardly looked possible, as Croatia stood toe-to-toe with the favourites for an hour.
France’s victory meant Deschamps, who captained them 20 years ago, became just the third man to win the competition as a player and coach.
Croatia also felt that they deserved luck, but ultimately France ran out victorious to erase the memories of the loss to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final in Paris.
In one of the most exciting World Cup finals of the modern era, played out to a soundtrack of thunder, Croatia and France delivered an enthralling spectacle that brought the highest goal tally in a final since 1966, a pitch invasion, and a controversial intervention from the video assistant referee that had a huge influence on the outcome.
France took the lead after 18 minutes when Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick deflected in off Mario Mandzukic’s head; but Croatia were by far the better side in the first half and deservedly equalized, courtesy of Ivan Perisic’s left-foot finish.
Croatia were left nursing a burning sense of injustice when France restored their lead seven minutes before half-time through Griezmann’s penalty, awarded by referee Nestor Pitana for handball against Perisic, after a lengthy delay while VAR was consulted.
Meanwhile, England captain Harry Kane won the Golden Boot after finishing as the World Cup’s top scorer with Croatia’s Luka Modric winning the Golden Ball for being the player of the tournament.
Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard was the second best player, with France forward Antoine Griezmann third.
His French team-mate, Kylian Mbappe, won the Young Player Award.
Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois was awarded the Golden Glove for being the leading goalkeeper.
Kane is the second Englishman to end as the top scorer in a World Cup, after Gary Lineker who scored six goals in 1986.
Mbappe and Griezmann, who both scored in France’s 4-2 final, win over Croatia, ended on four goals apiece, two behind Kane.
Russia’s Denis Cheryshev, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku also scored four times.
Kane, the Premier League top scorer in two of the past three seasons, also became the first Englishman, since Tommy Lawton in 1939, to score in six consecutive internationals, although he did not net in England’s last three matches in Russia.

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