By Izuchukwu Okosi
France head coach Didier Deschamps became the third coach in the FIFA World Cup to win the title as a player and coach after guiding the 1998 champions to a 4-2 win against Croatia at the Luznikhy Stadium, Moscow Sunday evening.
An own goal by Mario Mandzukic, and strikes by Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba and penalty by Antoine Griezmann won the final for the French team. Ivan Perisic and Mandzukic got Croatia’s goals.
France and Croatia had faced five times previously, with France winning three of those games (in 1998, 1999 and 2000) and the other two games ending as draws (2004 and 2011).
France went ahead in the 18th minute as Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic inadvertently guided the ball with a header into the top corner from Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick.
A super strike from Ivan Perisic in the 28th minute levelled the score for Croatia. France failed to clear the danger from a free-kick as Mandzukic, then Domagoj Vida, knocked the ball towards the winger who smashed a left footed shot to the bottom right corner.
France regained their lead with ten minutes to half time with a Video Assistant Referee aided penalty.
The referee, Nestor Pitana had a second look at the monitor as Ivan Perisic handled the ball in the penalty box and his verdict was penalty to Les Blues.
Pogba made it 3-1 for the French side in the 59th minute. Mbappe’s break down the right flank stretched the Croatia defence. A low ball into the box was worked back towards Pogba via a deflection. His effort was blocked by Vida, but it rebound back towards the Manchester United midfielder. With his second drive on his left foot, he found the top corner.
Mbappe then virtually put the game out of Croatia’s reach six minutes later. From 25 yards he lets fly with a low strike that Vida failed to block and it moved past Subasic before the keeper could get down.
Mandzukic robbed Hugo Lloris of the ball to grab Croatia’s second goal of the final with 21 minutes left on the clock but it was too late to salvage anything.
Belgium had beaten England 2-1 on Saturday evening to win the third place match.