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France wins the World Cup behind Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe goals

Les Bleus have won their second World Cup, with their biggest stars turning in huge performances against Croatia.

France v Croatia - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Final score: France 4-2 Croatia

France might have been more lucky than good in the first half, but they showed why they deserved to win the World Cup in the second half. Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, in particular, upped their games during the second period with a pair of sensational goals.

Incredibly, France had no shot attempts in the first half. They went into the break with a 2-1 lead, but as the result of an own goal and a penalty, given after a long VAR review. Zero shots. Ivan Perisic scored a sensational goal for Croatia, but they went into halftime likely perplexed to be trailing, 2-1.

Croatia came out of the locker room with more energy too, but the tide strangely turned when the best player at this World Cup was substituted. N’Golo Kante picked up an early yellow card and was never the same after that. Once Steven Nzonzi came on in his place, France’s intensity picked up, and they started looking dangerous.

Pogba scored the third goal five minutes later, finishing off a long counter-attack that he started. Not long after that, Mbappe sealed the win, becoming the second teenager to score in a World Cup, after Pele. A Hugo Lloris howler gave Croatia hope, but they never created another big chance as France held on to win their second World Cup.

GOAL Mario Mandzukic! France 4-2 Croatia.

Uh oh, Hugo Lloris has committed an absolute howler and opened the door for a possible comeback. He had plenty of time to clear the ball away under some pressure from Mandzukic, but instead just kicks the ball into the Croatia striker. Bizarre mistake.

GOAL Kylian Mbappe! France 4-1 Croatia.

Oh man, France is just toying with Croatia now. Theo Hernandez does a couple of stepovers on the left before squaring for Mbappe, who looks like he’s setting up a curling shot towards the top corner at the far post. Instead, he takes a rip low and towards the near post, completely fooling Danijel Subasic. It’s a 200 IQ play from a 19-year-old, and this game looks over.

GOAL Paul Pogba! France 3-1 Croatia.

Unlucky for Croatia, but Paul Pogba deserves this goal with the work he’s done in this game. He started the move with a sensational pass to Kylian Mbappe, who eventually got the ball across for Antoine Griezmann. He couldn’t find a shooting opportunity and laid it back to Pogba, who had his first shot blocked. But the ball deflected back to him, and the Croatian defense wasn’t ready. He blasted the ball past Danijel Subasic, and Les Bleus are now very much in control.

53’ — We’ve got pitch invaders

Not a pitch invader. Invaders. Like four of them.

Meanwhile, N’Golo Kante has come off for Steven Nzonzi. While Kante has been one of the best players at this tournament, he was on a yellow card. He couldn’t play as aggressively as he wanted, and it was hurting France’s midfield.

Halftime score: France 2-1 Croatia

These have been two of the most defensive teams in the World Cup, but that hasn’t produced a boring final. Just halfway through the match, France and Croatia have produced more goals than any of the World Cup finals since 1998.

While Croatia trail, they should feel good about their chances of getting back into this match. France has two goals, but zero open play shot attempts. Their first goal was an own goal, and their second was a penalty. The Croats have been the better team, and look extremely capable of mounting another comeback.

PENALTY France! Handball on Perisic after VAR review. Antoine Griezman steps up and... SCORES! France 2-1 Croatia

We’ve got a controversial one here. While there’s no doubt that Ivan Rakitic handled the ball in the box after a France corner, there will be a serious debate about whether his hand was in a natural position, or he played it intentionally. Griezmann converts from the spot.

GOAL Ivan Rakitic! France 1-1 Croatia!

What a strike by Perisic! Croatia ran a planned set piece that didn’t exactly go off as planned, but eventually produced the desired result. Luka Modric hit an angled ball towards the back post that was knocked down and ping-ponged around in the box before it made its way towards Perisic. He took a touch to set himself up, then hit a laser of a half-volley past Hugo Lloris from 15 yards.

OWN GOAL Mario Mandzukic! France 1-0 Croatia

What a cruel own goal for one of the best players at this tournament. After Marcelo Brozovic hauled down Antoine Griezmann, the man who earned the free kick whipped a dangerous delivery into the box. Mandzukic rose to meet it, but the ball hit off the top of his head and deflected into his own net. Hard to blame him for this one.

Lineups for France and Croatia

The 2018 World Cup draws to a close with the final match between France and Croatia. Kickoff is at 11 a.m. ET at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow Russia. Follow along or check back in for score updates and key moments as these two teams fight for the championship title.

Croatia toppled a strong English team 2-1 in the team’s second semifinal appearance. With that win they are competing in their first-ever World Cup final and trying to bring home their first World Cup title.

France advanced past Belgium in a 1-0 victory to claim their spot in the final match. France look to claim their second World Cup final after winning the title back in 1998. France’s last appeared in a World Cup final match in 2006 where they finished as runner-up to Italy.

France vs. Croatia news to read before kickoff

5 questions about Croatia’s World Cup final chances, (sort of) answered

Right then. Are Croatia going to win the World Cup? For a game played by thousands of billions of people, and for a competition that has been running for the best part of 100 years, the very top of the men’s international game is an exclusive club. 79 teams have taken part in the men’s World Cup, over 21 tournaments. But only 13 have ever made it to the final, and only nine have ever won.

The 22 likely starters in the World Cup final, ranked

The World Cup final is on Sunday between France and Croatia, and barring any surprises, we’re pretty sure who the 22 players starting in the match will be. So let’s rank them, eh?