Champions! Lionel Messi leads Argentina to electrifying World Cup victory over France

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By Euronews  with AP
Players of Argentina celebrate defeating France in the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.
Players of Argentina celebrate defeating France in the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP

Argentina has beaten reigning champions France in the final of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar after extra time and penalties in an electrifying encounter.

It's the South Americans' third trophy: they previously won it in 1978 -- when the tournament was also hosted in Argentina -- and again in 1986; and were runners-up in 1930, 1990 and 2014.

The score after extra time was 3-3, and then a penalty shoot-out saw Argentina win 4-2.

Argentina's talismanic captain Lionel Messi got the first goal of the match, a penalty in the 23rd minute, while his teammate Angel Di Maria put the ball in the back of the net for Argentina's second goal in the 36th minute.

Meanwhile France, supported in Qatar by thousands of fans including super fan President Emmanuel Macron, struggled to string passes together, and seemed at times sluggish and overwhelmed by Argentina's more aggressive style of play. 

A number of France players had reportedly suffered from flu symptoms in the days leading up to the final. 

However in the last ten minutes of regular play, Les Bleus jolted into life when Kylian Mbappé scored from the penalty spot in the 80th minute, and followed it up just one minute later with his second goal of the game.  

Those goals completely changed the dynamic of the final, thrilling the Lusail Stadium, and fans all around the world. 

Victor R. Caivano/AP
Argentina's soccer fans celebrate at the Obelisk their team's goals during the World Cup final soccer match, in Buenos Aires, 18 December 2022Victor R. Caivano/AP

Action-packed extra time and dramatic penalties

The match went into extra time, with France looking the more hungry side, but then Argentina substitutes gave a boost to the side, and Lionel Messi got another goal in the 108th minute taking the score to 3-2 in Argentina's favour.

But there was yet more drama to come with a penalty awarded to France, and Kylian Mbappé getting his third goal of the game, leveling the score at 3-3.

That meant penalties, with Mbappé and Messi each scoring the first penalties for their respective sides.

France's second penalty from Kingsley Coman was saved by the keeper; while Argentina's second penalty from Paolo Dybala hit the target.

France's third penalty missed, with Aurelien Tchouameni shooting wide; but Argentina's third penalty from Leandro Paredes beat the keeper.

Randal Kolo Muani got a goal with France's fourth penalty; and Gonzalo Montiel scored for Argentina, sealing their World Cup victory. 

Argentina wins 3-3 (4-2).