A storybook ending to the World Cup Final
The GIST: The legendary Lionel Messi and No. 3 Argentina are your 2022 FIFA men’s World Cup champions after taking down Golden Boot winner Kylian Mbappé and No. 4 France yesterday in perhaps the greatest sporting event ever. Couldn’t have written a better ending.
How it happened: With a 2–0 lead and less than 11 minutes to go in regulation, it seemed as if Argentina would sail to the title. But Mbappé took matters into his own feet, er, hands, scoring twice in under two minutes to send things to extra time.
- That’s where both squads’ brightest stars traded late goals, with Messi netting what looked like the game-winner before Mbappé equalized, notching the first men’s World Cup final hat trick since 1966 to force anxiety-inducing penalty kicks (PKs).
- It wasn’t too stressful for Argentina keeper Emiliano Martínez, though. He danced his way to a clutch save before Gonzalo Montiel netted the game-sealing PK to secure Argentina their third World Cup title and their first in 36 years. What a moment.
The significance: Yesterday marked Messi’s record-setting 26th and final men’s World Cup appearance, and he celebrated by nabbing the trophy that eluded him in his four previous tournaments. He also won the Golden Ball (aka tourney MVP), becoming the first man to do so twice. Consider that GOAT “debate” settled.
Off the field recap: As thrilling as yesterday’s action was, the confetti and fireworks can’t cover up Qatar’s atrocious human rights abuses in the lead up to and throughout the tournament. From quelling player protests to ignoring the deaths of migrant workers, Qatar and FIFA need to pay up and do better.
What’s next: FIFA will have a chance to do just that when the women’s World Cup kicks off from Australia and New Zealand in just 213 days. Not like we’re counting…