World Cup: France 4 Croatia 2 - 5 things you need to know

Paul Pogba (right) of France in action against Marcelo Brozovic of Croatia during the Fifa World Cup 2018 final between France and Croatia in Moscow, Russia, on July 15, 2018.
Paul Pogba (right) of France in action against Marcelo Brozovic of Croatia during the Fifa World Cup 2018 final between France and Croatia in Moscow, Russia, on July 15, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
France's forward Kylian Mbappe (right) prepares to shoot and score his team's fourth goal during their Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 15, 2018.
France's forward Kylian Mbappe (right) prepares to shoot and score his team's fourth goal during their Russia 2018 World Cup final football match between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 15, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

In the highest-scoring World Cup Final since 1966, France defeated Croatia 4-2 in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium to lift the world title for the second time after their first triumph in 1998.

Les Bleus had to overcome a nervous start before opening the scoring and once that first ball flew into the net, the floodgates opened in what is arguably the best final in the last two decades.

1. Goals

France (Mario Mandzukic own-goal 18th min, Antoine Griezmann penalty 38th, Paul Pogba 59th, Kylian Mbappe 65th) Croatia (Ivan Perisic 28th, Mandzukic 69th)

2. The wow moment

With one wallop of his right boot, Mbappe entered the record books as the second teenager to score in the Final. The 19-year-old seemed to have been silenced in the big match as Croatia battened down the hatches to close down space for the speed demon to run into.

But he finally found some space and he calmly lashed a fierce shot past the stunned Danijel Subasic. He has set himself on the road to follow in the footsteps of the first teen to do so - Pele, in 1958.

3. The talking point

This is the first World Cup to introduce VAR and this match became the first Final to have a moment decided by the video referee.

When Perisic leapt to defend a corner in the 35th minute, referee Nestor Pitana did not whistle for any infringement. But as the French led the protests, the Argentinian official checked the video before pointing to the spot.

Love it or loathe it, VAR is here to stay and the electronic eyes have arguably cut down on bad behaviour during this World Cup as fouls and offences that had previously gone unnoticed are now picked up.

The result is a World Cup that had goals aplenty and less red cards as players focused on playing the game.

 
 
 
 

4. The star

Although he did not top the scoring charts (England's Harry Kane did with six goals), Griezmann, who had four strikes to his name, was instrumental in Les Bleus' triumph. He did not deem it too dirty a job to harass Croatian defenders in possession. He foraged for the ball and got tackles in.

On the offensive side, his free-kicks and corners are a potent weapon, seen in the opener that led to Mandzukic's unfortunate own-goal. With Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in their twilight, perhaps Griezmann, who is 27, can be a future Ballon d'Or nominee.

5. What the result means

Croatia, who have a population of just over four million, proved that small countries can punch way above their weight at the World Cup. They did that with skill and more importantly, they played with a lot of heart and belief under Zlatko Dalic. But they finally met their match in a classy France team that was strong in all departments.

Coach Didier Deschamps, who captained Les Bleus in their 1998 victory, knows what it takes to win football's biggest prize. His galaxy of star players all put aside their egos and listened to him.

And there is a new generation who made the breakthrough in Russia - Mbappe, Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane. The future looks bright, the future looks blue, the future looks French.