'A game for the ages': How the world reacted to Argentina's 'crazy' World Cup final win
Lionel Messi finally scratched his World Cup itch with Argentina's thrilling penalty shoot-out victory over France in a "final for the ages".
The 35-year-old Argentine maestro scored twice in a breathless encounter, while his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe netted the first World Cup final hat-trick since 1966 as the game finished 3-3 after extra-time.
France fought back from 2-0 and 3-2 down and both sides had chances to win a helter-skelter game at the death before the shoot-out.
BBC pundits struggled to find the words to describe what they had witnessed, with former England striker Alan Shearer describing it as "bonkers" and Rio Ferdinand plumping for "truly extraordinary".
In his final World Cup game, Messi matched his idol Diego Maradona in winning international football's most coveted prize in what Jermaine Jenas described as "one of the greatest moments in football history".
Shearer said: "Just crazy. The duel in the desert. Anything you can do, I can do better. It's been absolutely relentless... I'd like to say thank you to Messi and Mbappe. The way Argentina kept going and the mentality they had to show, the belief and the courage in the biggest game of their lives. Well done and thank you for entertaining us."
His BBC colleague Rio Ferdinand said: "Truly, truly extraordinary. It looked like Messi had pulled his team back from the brink but then Mbappe scored his second penalty to score his hat-trick...
"This type of game you want to see the best players go at it head-to-head. [Messi and Mbappe] have just gone toe to toe and delivered on a level we've never seen before. This is the best final anyone could have ever wished for."
ARGENTINA HAVE WON THE WORLD CUP!!
Look at these scenes. They've done it. #BBCWorldCup #FifaWorldCup pic.twitter.com/caFYhmWO0a
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) December 18, 2022
Gary Lineker called it "a final for the ages", adding: "After a wait of 36 years when the late, great Diego Maradona lifted the World Cup trophy Argentina have won it again. Like the team of 1986 they have done it with the help of a diminutive, left-footed genius... What a game of football."
After Argentina's triumph was secured, BBC commentator Jenas said: "One of the greatest moments in footballing history. I can't believe what I have just witnessed."
Shearer said: "It's crazy, it's bonkers. For 80 minutes France didn't have a shot on target and they looked leggy, lethargic and tired... they were going nowhere. Then all of a sudden, one crazy challenge, they get the goal, everyone's spirits are up and they're right back in it. What a final."
How Argentina's press reacted
La Nacion said Messi and Argentina had "touched the sky in Qatar" and had been put through the emotional wringer on the way to victory, going "through all the states of mind" on a wild night at the Lusail Stadium.
Diario De Cuyo said Argentina's third World Cup triumph came after a "heart-stopping" game, but Messi and Co managed to prevail from 12 yards.
The leading headline on El Dia was a simple, but effective: "Argentina and Messi, champions!" The newspaper said the final "will go down in history" and the result had left the Argentina fans "delirious".
How France reacted
By Rebecca Rosman and agencies
As Gonzalo Montiel scored the final penalty to confirm Argentina as world champions, an eerie silence fell on a freezing and wet Champs-Elysées in Paris.
“It’s so disappointing. We came back and believed we could do it,” said Romain Cyne, who watched the match from a crowded bar in central Paris.
The main question on everyone's lips was why France had not turned up in the first half, which they finished two goals behind. An illness that swept through the French team in the week was perhaps to blame, but it came as even more of a shock when they came out of their slumber to draw level.
“We woke up too late,” Jordan Tambutte, a disappointed France fan who watched the match from Belushi’s bar in Paris. “We showed a real strength of character but when you get to penalties it’s 50-50."
“Les Bleus let us dream,” tweeted French president Emmanuel Macron, who had traveled to Qatar to watch the final from the stands. Macron, a huge football fan, was also seen consoling Mbappé in the moments after the tournament.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo saluted the French team for a “legendary” game, while Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, France’s sports minister, tweeted: “At the end of the suspense, sadness. Our Bleus were able to raise their heads to offer us a legendary final. Congratulations to them…dry your tears, you made France proud.”
L'Equipe opted for a main image of a distraught Mbappe with his face in his shirt and the headline: "Messi for everything". The sports newspaper described it as "a totally surreal" game with "perhaps the most beautiful [ending] in history".
It said Les Bleus has somehow "found unfathomable strength" to fight back from two goals down to take the game to extra-time, with Argentina's win ensuring Messi "entered the legend of the World Cup for good".
L'Argentine remporte la Coupe du monde 2022, après la séance de tirs au but face à la France : https://t.co/dzzb8dTKk5#ARGFRA #ArgentinaVSFrance pic.twitter.com/yPRPqqOALq
— L'ÉQUIPE (@lequipe) December 18, 2022
Le Figaro suggested France had "let their world title slip away", which seems a little harsh given the final was decided on spot-kicks.
Its online write-up offered a slightly more nuanced verdict, in fairness: "Rarely has a World Cup final delivered such a crazy scenario. But that will not console Kylian Mbappé, author of a hat-trick, nor the rest of the France team."
Le Monde, meanwhile, said Messi's "once-in-a-generation career is now complete" and he is now "definitively in the pantheon of soccer’s greatest-ever players, alongside Pele and Diego Maradona".
What the players and managers said
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni:
"It's incredible, I sincerely want to talk about the match because it couldn't be that we suffered so much. A perfect match, but we are made to suffer. Football has these things, but the team reacts to everything. I'm proud, now I'm relieved because they did a job.
"It's an incredible group that sometimes excites. Everyone is empowered when you trust, one says that he is going to save two and saves them. With the [setbacks] we received today, having won like this has twice the merit.
"That people enjoy it because it's a historic moment and for all those who want to play for the national team. Do this, it's the way you have to play. I don't believe it."
"We lived it very calmly. Thinking about everything that we lived through... we arrived very calmly. If you don't suffer, it's not worth it and you had to suffer.
"I dedicate it to all Argentines and to all those who supported us. I hope it helps us to realise that when we are together we are better."
Rodrigo De Paul:
"We are world champions, I don't know what to say. I never imagined it. We are thousands of kilometers away and... it's the best. With each situation we have suffered. It is for me one of the happiest days of my life."
France manager Didier Deschamps:
"Those first 70 minutes or so we were playing a very aggressive and dynamic opponent and we just weren't up to the same level for a number of reasons
"But, nevertheless, we managed to come back from the dead and we made a magnificent comeback from what was a very difficult situation.
"Obviously we have some regrets about that first part of the match and then we go into the extra time, where we could have won it in the last minute. Unfortunately, it didn't go in and then it went to penalties.
"We were perhaps lacking a little bit of energy. Some of our key players were lacking that energy. But, nonetheless, we had some young, more inexperienced players who came on and brought some freshness and quality and they managed to get us back into the match and keep the dream alive.
"But unfortunately at the end of the day we couldn't achieve that dream."