Argentina defeated France in the 2022 FIFA World Cup (WC) final following a thrilling 3-3 deadlock to win their third world championship, ending a 36-year wait for the sport’s top honor. Gonzalo Montiel’s penalty proved to be the game-changing moment.
Despite being extensively promoted as this final’s two primary protagonists, neither Kylian Mbappé nor Lionel Messi were able to produce a significant opportunity in the opening exchanges.
But shortly after, with 23 minutes remaining, Messi would score the game’s opening goal following a clumsy trip by Ousmane Dembélé on Angel Di Maria inside the penalty area.
After taking a deep breath, the maestro casually sidefooted a shot into the bottom-right corner to beat Hugo Lloris and make history by becoming the first player to score in every World Cup knockout round under the 32-team model.
Les Bleus’ lackluster performance up to that moment was somewhat mitigated by tales of a virus in the France camp, but 10 minutes before halftime, a flawless team goal tore them open once more.
Alexis Mac Allister received a precise pass from Julián Lvarez after Messi stole the ball from a throw-in.
Ever the visionary, the Brighton player noticed Di Maria on the other side of the field. The Juventus winger went unopposed with perfect timing to slot past Lloris and appear to end the match with an hour remaining.
In the second half, a still-overworked Lloris largely prevented Argentina from scoring, and France coach Didier Deschamps dutifully participated in a seismic toss of the dice.
With the simultaneous use of Eduardo Camavinga and Kingsley Coman, he added some much-needed speed, but it was the previous substitution Randal Kolo Muani who gave Les Bleus a way back by falling in the box under Nicolás Otamendi’s charge.
Mbappé came up to shoot a calm penalty beyond Emiliano Martnez’s dive, not to be denied his own dramatic twist.
In a flash, the Parisian equalized and passed Messi as the tournament’s leading scorer after being on hand again just moments later to receive a pass inside the box from Marcus Thuram.
For the fourth time in five WC finals, regulation time ended scoreless. Extra time was tense as expected, but Argentina regained the lead when Lautaro Martnez strolled into the box and fired from an angle, drawing a close-range parry from Lloris.
Messi, out of all the potential heroes on the night, pounced on the rebound and saw his follow-up shot blocked, but not before just crossing the goal line and giving Argentina what appeared to be a dramatic victory.
However, Mbappé went above and beyond once again by converting a penalty with 116 minutes remaining after Montiel was called for a handball inside the penalty area, matching 1966 legend Geoff Hurst’s no longer unique record of scoring a hat-trick in the World Cup final.
And so, for the first time in 16 years, the main event would be decided by penalties. In such terrible circumstances, Italy defeated France in 2006, and history repeated itself when Montiel turned things around to defeat Lloris in the deciding match, securing a third world championship for Argentina.
The long journey from La Masia to El Maestro is now over for captain Messi, who scored a brace, and no one can now dispute his much-debated equality with 1986 champion Diego Maradona. Messi will launch the grand prize high into the desert sky.
But tonight was just as much about the next generation of Albiceleste, who will be aiming to surpass Germany’s and Italy’s combined total of four World Cup victories in 2026.
Based on this evidence, Messi’s successors will do all it takes to keep Argentina’s name in the public eye for many more years to come.