MOSCOW – France powered its way to the second World Cup title in its history on Sunday, storming past Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium in a dominant 4-2 triumph.
An early own goal from Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic – the first ever in a World Cup final – set France on its way, with Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe also getting on the scoresheet.
After suffering the disappointment of losing the 2016 European Championship semifinal on home soil, the result gave Les Blues redemption, 20 years after capturing its first World Cup crown.
That 1998 victory was fairly routine – a 3-0 cruise past Brazil – and so was this. Griezmann’s free-kick was deflected in by Mandzukic 18 minutes in, and even though Ivan Perisic levelled 10 minutes later, the French were back in front by half-time.
Video replay was used to call Perisic for handball in his own area, and Griezmann calmly made no mistake from the spot.
Croatia’s efforts in getting to the final via three extra time games and two shootouts began to catch up. Pogba stroked a left-foot strike from the edge of the box and Mbappe confirmed his reputation as a future superstar with his fourth goal of the tournament, letting France begin the celebration early.
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a bizarre error to allow Mandzukic grab a consolation goal, but Didier Deschamps’ side was never going to let victory slip. European teams have now won the last four World Cups, extending the longest streak ever.