Two goals behind at half-time, it looked as though France were going to end their World Cup party in Qatar with all the balloons burst, the cake smashed against the floor and the curtains on fire. By the end, it might well have transpired that way, but not before an astonishing comeback that saw Les Bleus claw the game back level in a matter of seconds, Kylian Mbappé the man who threw Argentina’s chances of a 36 year wait extending even more.
A penalty out of nowhere was quickly followed by one of the great World Cup goals, a stunning volley from the edge of the box, and France had taken Messi’s fairytale storybook and sent it swirling down the drain.
The PSG forward scored a stunning second goal for France REUTERS/Carl RecineCARL RECINEREUTERS
The game for France didn’t really begin until after the hour-mark, when the call for Kingsley Coman and Eduardo Camavinga came on, giving the European side a new energy and sense of determination, one which Mbappé embraced and used to drive his side on to near-completion of the impossible.
As the players headed down the tunnel for the break, the stark contrast between the two teams was clear to see: France trudged, heads down in the same way a dog avoids eye contact after being a very naughty boy; Argentina glided like teenagers on their way to a music festival for the first time.
⚠️ | QUICK STAT
There have been 12 goals scored in the last two #FIFAWorldCup finals — in comparison, we saw only 10 goals in previous seven World Cup finals (1990-2014).
🇫🇷 4–2 🇭🇷
🇦🇷 3–3 🇫🇷
Kylian Mbappé (4) and Lionel Messi (2) have alone been responsible for 6 of them. 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/8G4kKqID3t
— Sofascore (@SofascoreINT) December 19, 2022
What did Mbappé say to his teammates at half-time?
“It’s a World Cup final, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime game – and we couldn’t have done it any worse! We couldn’t have done any worse than what we did!” Kylian opened his message to the players. “Let’s get on the pitch, stop messing around, be more intense, and do things differently. It’s a World Cup final!” Despite being just 24 years-old, the PSG forward did not show any lack of confidence, instead taking the initiative and highlighting that success in football is never a guarantee.
“What’s done is done, they’ve scored two goals against us, they’re two ahead. But we can come back. This only happens once every four years”, he continued, in at attempt to motivate instead of punish his teammates for their lacklustre performance until that point. It worked, as France picked up the pace and got back into the game, going all the way through a crazy extra-time period to penalties, where Gonzalo Montiel – and Dibu Martínez – broke their hearts.