The 2022 Qatar World Cup reaches a legendary conclusion

TAKING HOME THE GOLD: Argentina’s captain Lionel Messi holds the World Cup trophy while retired Argentina striker Sergio Aguero holds him on his shoulders. Argentina defeated France in a close match after winning the penalty shoot-out 4-2. Photo courtesy of Wallpaper Flare

By: Isaac Peter

The 2022 World Cup came to a close with Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Kylian Mbappe’s France going head-to-head in the finals. The journey to the final match consisted of shocks and upsets as fans went through a variety of emotions watch- ing their home countries play. In the end, Argentina defeated France 4-2 in penalties after tying 3-3 in extra time.

The World Cup is played every four years and began in 1930 at Uruguay, meaning that only 24 total World Cup tournaments have occurred. The top winning countries are currently Brazil with five wins, and Germany and Italy with four wins each. This year’s finalists, France and Argentina, both had their fair share of adversity during the tournament with their star players, Lionel Messi for Argentina and Kylian Mbappe for France, leading the charge for their respective countries.

France began in Group D with Australia, Denmark and Tunisia. France first played and defeated Australia 4-1 and Denmark 2-1. Already qualifying for the knockout stage with these wins, France benched their starters in their next game against Tunisia, which cost them a 1-0 loss. To start the Round of 16, France faced off against Poland and sweeped a 4-1 win. In the quarter-finals, France faced the powerhouse England and took the win 2-1 after England’s captain Harry Kane missed the game-tying penalty. France then beat Morocco 2-0 in the semi-finals to make it to the finals against Argentina.

Meanwhile, in Group C, Argentina started off with a stunning loss to Saudi Arabia at 2-1. However, Argentina next defeated both Mexico and Poland 2-0 to make it to the knockout stage. In the Round of 16, they finished with a 2-1 win against Australia. The quarter-finals consisted of a rough match between Argentina and the Netherlands, with the game holding the re- cord for the most yellow cards ever given in a World Cup game. After a close penalty shoot-out, Argentina took the win 4-3. Advancing into the semi-finals, Argentina took on Croatia and won 3-0, ironically reversing their own score from their loss in the 2018 World Cup against them.

WORLD CUP OPENING: Qatar begins their World Cup opening ceremony with a fire show accompanied by a large World Cup replica in the middle of the field. Qatar’s hosting marks the first time the World Cup has been played in the Middle East. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

In the finals, both France and Argentina were looking to bring their country a third World Cup title. The game began with a back-and-forth rapport until the 20-min- ute-mark. Argentina veteran midfielder Angel Di Maria got a controversial foul, giving his captain Messi a free penalty kick. Di Maria later scored at the 36-min- ute-mark and pulled the score 2-0 in Argentina’s favor. Commencing out of half- time, the match was kept to a stalemate with no goals being scored at Argentina’s attempt to stall France. However, at the 80-minute-mark a penalty was awarded to France. Forward Mbappe scored the penalty kick, finally putting France on the board at 2-1. Within the next minute, Mbappe took another shot from outside the box and scored a stunning goal to tie the match 2-2 at the 81-minute-mark.

The remainder of the match at regular time was kept to a stalemate, and once the first half of extra time began, the same occurred. However, in the second half of extra time Messi scored a close goal to put Argentina ahead 3-2. The match took a shocking twist when two minutes before the game concluded, France was awarded another penalty after a foul. Mbappe was able to score once again, earning a hattrick for his three solo goals.

Reduced to a penalty shoot-out, the match concluded at 3-3, sparking an anxiety-inducing next few minutes. The shoot-out ended 4-2 in Argentina’s favor after France winger Kingsley Coman and midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni missed their kicks. The tense World Cup final ended with a long-awaited victory for Messi’s Argentina, and a promise from France to return to the finals in four years.

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