World Cup final: France crowned world champion after 4-2 win over Croatia

Updated 3:38 AM EDT, Mon July 16, 2018
People react as they watch on the fan zone the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia, on the Champ de Mars in Paris on July 15, 2018. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
People react as they watch on the fan zone the Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia, on the Champ de Mars in Paris on July 15, 2018. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)
Now playing
01:50
France celebrates World Cup win
Now playing
01:59
1-on-1 with Vincent Kompany: 'A big part is luck'
Now playing
02:23
1-on-1 with Geoff Hurst: 'It changes your life'
Now playing
01:25
World Cup One-on-One: Eden Hazard and Belgium
Now playing
02:32
1-on-1 with World Cup winning captain Lothar Matthäus
Now playing
01:28
1-on-1 with Croatia stalwart Dejan Lovren
Now playing
01:23
1-on-1 with England young gun Marcus Rashford
Now playing
02:15
1-on-1 with Mathew Ryan: Winning World Cup would be "mind-blowing"
Now playing
01:35
1-on-1 with Gylfi Sigurdsson: "It's a tough group"
Now playing
01:37
1-on-1 with World Cup veteran Hidetoshi Nakata
Now playing
01:42
1-on-1 with Alex Iwobi: Can Nigeria win the World Cup?
Now playing
02:12
One-on-One with World Cup winner Hope Solo
Now playing
02:35
World Cup 1-on-1: Bernardo Silva and Portugal

Story highlights

France 4-2 Croatia

Victory comes 20 years after first World Cup triumph

(CNN) —  

There was to be no final, dramatic twist in a World Cup which has been full of joyous surprises and jaw-dropping late drama.

Twenty years after France won the first World Cup in its country’s history, a youthful Les Bleus side beat Croatia 4-2 in Moscow to win football’s most prestigious prize for the second time.

This was the highest-scoring final since 1966 and an entertaining climax a wonderful tournament deserved. In 90 high-octane minutes there was a controversial VAR decision, an own goal, record-breaking feats, a pitch invasion and an underdog pushing a heavyweight to its limit.

A Mario Mandzukic’s own goal and a controversial Antoine Griezmann penalty either side of Ivan Perisic’s wonderful long-range strike gave France a 2-1 lead at the break.

Arguably, France was undeservedly ahead but by the hour Les Bleus had scored two further goals, through Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, to put France in command and the result in little doubt.

A dreadful error by captain Hugo Lloris allowed Mandzukic to reduce the deficit in the 69th minute and though Croatia went in search of more goals in the closing 20 minutes France, despite nerves creeping in, refused to fold.

French players throw Deschamps into the air.
Thanassis Stavrakis/AP
French players throw Deschamps into the air.

As the heavens opened, France celebrated wildly on the pitch and Didier Deschamps, who etched his name in the record books by becoming the third man to win the World Cup as a player and head coach, following Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer, was thrown into the air by his players and staff.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who was at the Luzhniki Stadium, tweeted “Merci” to the players after the final whistle.

Mbappe, aged 19 years and 207 days, also further cemented his status as the most exciting young talent in world football with a long-range strike which made him the second-youngest player to score in a final after Pele, who scored as a 17-year-old in 1958.

Deservedly, the Paris Saint-Germain star was named the competition’s best young player.