France leads Croatia through contraversal goal


MOSCOW – The use of video replay has both solved problems and generated controversy at this World Cup and it was perhaps inevitable that it would influence the final.

From a corner on the right side, Croatia’s Ivan Perisic was in a defensive position but was largely unsighted as a France player jumped in front of him. The ball struck him on the left arm, and France reacted immediately, imploring Argentinean referee Nestor Pitana to make use of the technology. Pitana soon received a message in his earpiece, consulted the screen, and pointed to the spot.

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic dived early, and Antoine Griezmann comfortably slid the ball into the other side of the net to reestablish the lead.

The scoring began In the 18th minute, when Croatian forward Mario Mandzukic was the unfortunate culprit for the opening goal of Sunday’s title showdown, deflecting an 18th-minute free-kick into his own net.

It was the first time an own-goal had ever been scored in a World Cup final, dating back 21 tournaments and 88 years.

After France won a free-kick 35 yards from goal, Antoine Griezmann whipped in a fizzing delivery from the right, sending it into the packed penalty area. Mandzukic rose highest but his attempt to nod the ball to safety backfired.

Griezmann’s effort skimmed off the top of his head, causing just enough of a change in direction to leave Subasic helpless.

Mean while French President Emmanuel Macron congratulated Russia’s President Putin for his “perfect” organisation of the World Cup as the two leaders prepared to watch the final on Sunday.

Macron and his wife Brigitte met the Russian leader at the Kremlin on Sunday afternoon before the match between France and Croatia at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

Macron told Putin he wanted “to congratulate you as the organising country for how well this event has passed off. It has not only been watched around the world, but the whole world has come here” to watch it.

“To do it in safe conditions and with everything going perfectly was a challenge, so well done for that.”

Putin congratulated France for having reached the final.

“I am sure we will see an interesting, intense, close match which millions of spectators across the world will enjoy,” he said.

Putin met earlier with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.

She congratulated him on his hosting of the competition, saying it was an “example of how such an event should be organised”.

She presented Putin with a Croatia number-9 football shirt inscribed with his name.

Several other world leaders and sporting and show business stars were due to attend the final.


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