World Cup final 2022: Lionel Messi's Argentina beat France on penalties after dramatic 3-3 clash

ITV News Sports Editor Steve Scott reports on Argentina beating France on penalties to win the World Cup after a remarkable final

Lionel Messi is celebrating a career-defining World Cup triumph as Argentina won one of the most dramatic finals in history on penalties after Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick had kept former holders France alive. After 63 matches and a thrilling month of action, Sunday’s breathless finale was the wildest conclusion anyone could have imagined to the first finals held in the Middle East and Arab world. Messi came to Qatar looking to crown a glittering career by leading Argentina to a third World Cup triumph and managed just that after a staggering 3-3 draw ending in a 4-2 shootout victory against France.

Gonzalo Montiel scored the penalty that won Argentina the 2022 World Cup final. Credit: ITV Sport

Emiliano Martinez denied Kingsley Coman before Aurelien Tchouameni failed with his effort, with Gonzalo Montiel striking the decider to spark wild celebrations at Lusail Stadium. Messi converted his effort in the shootout having opened the scoring on Sunday with a first-half penalty that was quickly complemented by Angel Di Maria’s fine goal against meek France, only for Mbappe to spark them to life.

Mbappe is well placed to become the best player in the world. Credit: AP

The 23-year-old scored twice in 97 seconds to take match beyond 90 minutes.

He became the second player to score a final hat-trick when cancelling out what had looked to be an extra-time winner by Argentina’s captain.

But this was Messi’s final. This was Messi’s tournament – one that ended with him lifting the trophy aloft at the same ground where they suffered a humiliating loss to Saudi Arabia just 26 days ago.

Lionel Messi celebrates victory over France with his teammates after the dramatic penalty shootout. Credit: PA

The 35-year-old’s fifth and final appearance at this stage ended in glory as he captained them to their first World Cup triumph since the late, great Diego Maradona did so in 1986.

Messi’s 26th appearance at the finals since his debut 16 years ago took him past Germany great Lothar Matthaus’ mark.

Lionel Messi kisses the World Cup trophy after receiving the Golden Ball award for best player of the tournament. Credit: AP

Fans in the crowd roared as Argentina's jumped up down holding the World Cup trophy.

It must have felt like a long time coming for many as Argentina won its previous World Cup titles in 1978 and 1986.

Argentina's captain said he will not call time on his international career just yet as the temptation to “experience a few more games as a world champion” is simply too great.

After the trophy ceremony, Messi assured fans he plans to continue being part of the national team, telling Argentinian TV station TyC Sports: “Obviously I wanted to cap my career with this and I can’t ask for anything more. “What will happen after this? I’ve managed to win the Copa America and the World Cup almost at the end… “I love football, it’s what I do. I enjoy being in the national team and want to continue by experiencing a few more games as a world champion.”

How have people in the sporting world reacted to Messi's performance?

“I’m so emotional. It’s one of those moments,” Pablo Zabaleta, a team-mate of Messi when Argentina lost to Germany in the 2014 final, said on BBC One. “I’m just watching Messi. Thank you to everybody for that great game. What a perfect story for Messi. He deserves it 100 per cent. “I’ve been part of that team when Messi came for the first time to play for the national team. He came to represent his country with the passion and the respect. “He has always shown that for his country. Everyone is just crying and giving him a big hug. “For our country, we will see a picture of Diego Maradona and Messi, two of the greatest players of all time, with the World Cup trophy. That is something so incredible.”

England midfielders Declan Rice and James Maddison were among the first to pay tribute to Messi. “Lionel Messi. The best ever,” said Rice. “We will never see a player like Messi ever again.”

Lionel Messi celebrates with the trophy in front of the adoring fans. Credit: AP

Maddison believes the ‘GOAT’ debate between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo is settled once and for all. “For those who know football know that tonight’s result didn’t determine whether Messi was the best player ever or not,” he said. “But yet I’m so happy he did for the people who thought he needed it so now there’s no debate.”

Fans in Buenos Aires react to the penalties and celebrate Argentina's victory

Former England striker Michael Owen said: “Congratulations Argentina. Incredible game. Surely the best ever final? “Messi puts the top hat on an unbelievable career but spare a thought Mbappe, a hat-trick in a World Cup final yet goes home empty handed.” Stars from other sports weighed in to praise Messi too. Britain’s two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray wrote on Twitter: “Is Messi the best athlete of all time? Forget just football. What a man.”

FIFA president Gianni Infantino labelled it the best ever tournament, but Human Rights Watch’s Minky Worden says it will be remembered “as the most expensive sporting event ever – and the most deadly”. The organisers have largely kept quiet throughout a tournament that ended with a star-studded crowd joining the Argentina fans that have turned Qatar sky blue over the last month.

But Qatar has faced criticism from the West for its human rights record, its stance on LGBTQ rights and its treatment of the low-paid labourers who built the over $200 billion in infrastructure in the runup to the tournament.

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