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Argentina beats France on penalties in epic World Cup final as Messi, Mbappe put on a show for the ages – NBC Sports

Argentina beat France in the World Cup final on penalty kicks as an epic clash played out during a pulsating 3-3 draw in normal time, as Lionel Messi won his legacy defining World Cup.
The GOAT debates are now over. Lionel Messi is the greatest of all time.
This final may have been the greatest sporting event of all time.
[ MORE: List of Messi’s career honors ]
The victory secured Argentina’s third World Cup title in their history and their first since 1986. It is Lionel Messi’s first World Cup title as the 35-year-old was mobbed by his teammates at the final whistle amid tears, relief and unbridled joy.
This is what it is all about. And this game delivered one of the greatest sporting finals of all time as for just the third time in history, the World Cup was decided on penalty kicks.
Lionel Messi scored the opener and set up the second for Angel di Maria as Argentina were 2-0 up at half time but with 10 minutes of normal time to go Kylian Mbappe scored a penalty and then smashed home another soon after to make it 2-2 and send the game to extra time.
Messi put Argentina 3-2 up late in extra time as it looked like he had won it, again, for Argentina. But then Mbappe won another penalty kick and finished it to score a hat trick and make it 3-3 as he became just the second player in history to score a hat trick in the World Cup final.
[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub
Both teams had chances to win it in regulation but then Emiliano Martinez was the hero as he saved Coman’s penalty kick and Aurelien Tchouameni missed for France, as Argentina scored all four of theirs and Montiel slotted home the winning penalty kick.
Cue wild scenes in Qatar, back in Argentina and from football lovers around the world as Lionel Messi finally won the World Cup his legacy deserved.
[ MORE: World Cup final odds, favorites, lines ]

Lionel Messi, 35, deserves this World Cup. For everything he has given the football world over the last two decades he deserves to have won it all. He delivered throughout this tournament and now his legacy is complete. He will probably overtake Pele and Diego Maradona after this. Until he won a World Cup, the debate was always there about who is the true GOAT. Now it ends. It is Messi. France played their part with their amazing comeback to force extra time and penalty kicks but there was a feeling of destiny around Argentina winning this World Cup, which Messi said would be his last. If it is his last World Cup, talk about going out in style. In 100 years from now we will be talking about Lionel Messi and we will probably be talking about this World Cup final too.
Lionel Messi: Two goals, superb display and he got his World Cup trophy. What more is there to say? The 2022 World Cup was Lionel Messi’s World Cup.
Kylian Mbappe: Hat trick and delivered when France needed him most. He scored eight goals in the World Cup to win the Golden Boot and has scored 12 goals in the World Cup across two tournaments. Among active players only Messi (13) has scored more than the 23-year-old.
Angel di Maria: Scored and won a penalty before he was taken off. What an impact the veteran had. Good decision from Scaloni to start him.
Emiliano Martinez: Saved late on superbly from Kolo Muani and was the hero in the penalty shootout with a save.
Argentina vs FranceGraphic via
Kick off: 10am ET – Sunday, December 18
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)
Emiliano Martinez saves from Coman and Tchouameni puts his spot kick wide. Montiel has a chance to win the World Cup for Argentina…
Kolo Muani almost wins it! What a save from Emi Martinez. And then Lautaro Martinez almost wins it at the other end.
GOALLL! Argentina 3-3 France. Kylian Mbappe slots home the penalty kick after a handball on Montiel. Wow. Mbappe hat trick in the World Cup final.
This is a World Cup for the ages.
GOALLL! Argentina 3-2 France – Lionel Messi forces home the ball after Lautaro Martinez’s shot hits Lloris in the face and Messi bundles home.
Argentina have been much better in extra time so far.
FULL TIME – Argentina 2-2 France – They somehow hang on for extra time. France have incredible momentum. Argentina all over the place. Extra 30 minutes coming up.
This is wild. It is intense. France are all over Argentina. Lionel Messi has a shot that Hugo Lloris saves. What a moment that would have been.
GOALLL! Argentina 2-2 France – Mbappe volleys home. This is incredible. What a comeback. Just amazing.
— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) December 18, 2022

PENALTY TO FRANCE! – Argentina 2-1. Mbappe finishes after Otamendi drags back Kolo Muani.
HALF TIME – Argentina 2-0 France – This is going perfectly for Argentina. Can France go more direct and get back in this?
Subs for France as Kolo Muani and Thuram are on for Dembele and Giroud.
GOALLL! Great counter from Argentina and some wonderful passing to find Angel di Maria and his finish is lovely. 2-0 to Argentina before half time. They are in dreamland.
🔥 Put this goal in a museum. Brilliant passing and movement.
Lovely flick from Lionel Messi. Love the way Angel di Maria hit the ball into the floor on the finish. #ARG 2-0 #FRA
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) December 18, 2022

Can France respond? Argentina can now sit back and hit France on the counter. It is set up perfectly for them.
GOALLLL! Lionel Messi clips home the penalty kick as he keeps his calm to send Lloris the wrong way. 1-0 to Argentina.
🔥 Lionel Messi slots home the penalty kick to put Argentina in the final! #ARG 1-0 #FRA
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) December 18, 2022

PENALTY TO ARGENTINA! Di Maria clipped by Dembele in the box. Huge chance for Lionel Messi to open the scoring. Argentina have started the final much better than France.
😱 Falta sobre Dembélé dentro del área sobre Ángel Di María… Para ti, ¿Es o no es?#ARG 0-0 #FRA#MundialTelemundo #ElMundialLoEsTodo #Qatar2022 #ARGvsFRA
— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) December 18, 2022

The key battle and storyline is obviously the master against his apprentice. Will Lionel Messi, 35, win the World Cup trophy he has coveted for the lengthy of his legendary career? Or will his PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe, 23, lead France to back-to-back World Cups and the second of his young career? Elsewhere on the pitch the main battle will be fought in midfield. 
The midfield trio of Enzo Fernandez, Rodrigo de Paul and Alexis Mac Allister have been sensational for Argentina, while defensively they are flexible to switch between a back four and five. Having Montiel and Acuna back from suspension gives Lionel Scaloni a selection headache as he looks to lead Argentina to their third World Cup trophy and their first since 1986 when the great Diego Maradona lead them to glory in Mexico. Can Messi do the same in Qatar? However, Messi has been nursing a sore hamstring this week and all eyes will be on him (naturally) and his fitness but he starts. Scaloni starts with a back four but Tagliafico starts ahead of Acuna at left back. Angel di Maria starts in place of Paredes, which points to Argentina having a go from the off.
As for France, well, they’ve battled their way through this tournament and the reigning champs have hardly been electric. But they’ve got the job done and are one win away from becoming just the third team in history to win back-to-back World Cups. Didier Deschamps was hit by huge injuries before this World Cup but his side have recovered extremely well with youngster stepping up. Ibrahima Konate came in for the semifinal and played very well but Dayot Upamecano starts ahead of him. Like Argentina, France still look a little shaky defensively. In midfield Antoine Griezmann is rolling back the years in his new deeper playmaker role and Aurelien Tchouameni has been superb playing in the holding role. Up top Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud are purring and give France incredible balance. Plenty of players have been hit by a sickness bug in the France camp, but all of them have recovered in time. There were also reports that Karim Benzema could return to the France squad for this final after he left just before the tournament kicked off due to injury and was never replaced but now he’s back fit. Deschamps refused to talk about that topic at length and Benzema is not included in the squad.
Voici le 1️⃣1️⃣ de départ pour notre 𝗙𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹𝗲 𝗱𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗽𝗲 𝗱𝘂 𝗠𝗼𝗻𝗱𝗲 contre l’Argentine ⚔️🔥
Coup d’envoi 16h00 sur @TF1 📺
— Equipe de France ⭐⭐ (@equipedefrance) December 18, 2022

[ MORE: Argentina’s history at the World Cup ]
Current FIFA world ranking: 4
World Cup titles: 2 (1998, 2018)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group D)
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Key players: Kylian Mbappe, Hugo Lloris, Antoine Griezmann, Raphael Varane
Path to 2022 World Cup final: Finished top of Group C; beat Australia 2-1 in last 16; beat Netherlands on penalty kicks in quarterfinals; beat Croatia 3-0 in semifinals
[ MORE: France’s history at the World Cup ]
Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Emiliano Martinez, Nicolas Otamendi, Julian Alvarez
Path to 2022 World Cup final: Finished top of Group D; beat Poland 3-1 in last 16; beat England 2-1 in quarterfinals; beat Morocco 2-0 in semifinals

Premier League leaders Arsenal host West Ham in a London derby on Boxing Day, as Mikel Arteta’s men aim to get off to a flying start to the restart.
The Gunners have a five-point lead atop the Premier League table after the first 14 games of the season and they’ve lost just once and drawn once so far, winning the other 12. However, Arteta has been dealt a big injury blow during the World Cup with Gabriel Jesus ruled out and it will be intriguing to see if Arsenal can simply pick up where they left off six weeks ago. All eyes will be on the north Londoners over the next few months as Arteta’s young side are set for a title battle but a few key injuries could quickly derail them.
As for the Hammers, David Moyes’ side have struggled in the Premier League this season but perhaps that is because they’ve prioritized the UEFA Europa Conference League? They are stacked with talent and at times they’ve looked like the team which finished sixth and seventh in the last two seasons respectively. Their main issue has been making defensive mistakes which is something they have to cut out.
Here’s everything you need to know for Arsenal vs West Ham.

Kick off: 3pm ET, Monday (December 26)
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium
As we said, how Arsenal cope with the loss of Gabriel Jesus is key. The Brazilian striker suffered a knee injury during the World Cup and has had surgery. He is set to miss the next few months. In the meantime Eddie Nketiah will be tasked with replacing him up top and that is a huge ask and the Gunners may look to the January window for a stop-gap solution. Jesus hasn’t been banging in the goals but his link-up play allows Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard to flourish. Aside from the Jesus injury, everything is looking pretty good for Arsenal and now it’s all about seeing if they can regain that momentum they had in the first few months of the season.
For West Ham it’s about kicking on to push for a top 10 finish once again. David Moyes’ side sit just one point above the relegation zone and they’ve yet to find consistent form or figure out their best combinations in midfield and attack. The Hammers rely heavily on Declan Rice, while Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen have to regain their form of the last few seasons. The additions of Gianluca Scamacca and Lucas Paqueta haven’t really worked, so far. Having Nayef Aguerd back fit will be a huge boost and should shore them up defensively.
Saka was sensational at the World Cup for England, while Arsenal’s starting back four will actually be well-rested as between Ben White, William Saliba, Gabriel and Oleksandr Zinchenko, only Saliba played at the World Cup and that was for 27 minutes. Arsenal’s midfield duo of Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka are so key, while there will be a lot of pressure on Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli and Fabio Vieira to plug the gap left by the injury to Jesus.
West Ham need Declan Rice to bring his World Cup form to the Premier League, while Jarrod Bowen has looked sharp in their midseason games. Again, the main thing is getting better defensively and Aguerd had a fine World Cup for Morocco and now he’s fit, that’s a massive boost for West Ham.
William Saliba could come straight back in after being at the World Cup with France, while Gabriel Jesus is the only big injury concern. Emile Smith Rowe is working his way back to full fitness, while Oleksandr Zinchenko missed the friendly defeat to Juventus.
Gianluca Scamacca picked up an injury in the friendly draw at Fulham, while Kurt Zouma did not feature after his recent knee injury and Michail Antonio was also absent.

It was, by Liverpool’s own lofty standards, a disastrous first half of the season. The Reds (22 points) managed to climb into 6th place with back-to-back wins just before the 2022 World Cup break, but they sit seven points behind 4th-place Tottenham at the restart.
As for Aston Villa (18 points), (near-)disaster also applies. Steven Gerrard won just two of 11 games to start the season, and he was shown the door on Oct. 20. Unai Emery took over on Nov. 1 and guided Villa to back-to-back wins of their own, over 5th-place Manchester United and 7th-place Brighton, to land 12th in the table after 15 games.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Aston Villa vs Liverpool
[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]
Despite the arrival of Darwin Nunez in the summer, Roberto Firmino is enjoying a renaissance season as he leads Liverpool with seven goals, followed closely by Mohamed Salah (6) and Nunez (5). Firmino, who scored just five PL goals in 20 appearances last season, only became a regular starter once again after Sadio Mane left for Bayern Munich in the summer, and Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota suffered injuries that limited them to just 12 appearances between them.
Emery’s appointment marked a definitive turning point not only in terms of results, but the performance and tactical competence of a side that had won just three of 13 games and conceded 20 goals prior to his arrival. There was a 3-0 defeat to Fulham (Gerrard’s last game) and a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Newcastle (final game before Emery took over) in a span of nine miserable days in late October, but hope has already been restored by a man who has won four Europa League trophies in the last 10 years — a massive coup for the club.
OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles)
OUT: Luis Diaz (knee), Diogo Jota (thigh), Arthur Melo (thigh)
Follow @AndyEdMLS
Man City will have been stewing on a home loss to Brentford for a month and a half by the time this match kicks off, while Leeds is coming off a 4-3 loss to Tottenham.
Man City’s won four of the last five Premier League campaigns and a ninth PL title which would bring it level with Everton for the fourth-most top-flight crowns in English football history.
Leeds has three of those, the last coming in 1992, but they’d likely settle for a comfortable-enough finish outside of the bottom three.
[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]
How will City look after a lot of time away? Probably not too far from its usual self, especially since Erling Haaland is well-rested, Kevin De Bruyne is more rested than expected, and the Blues will have spent six weeks looking at a table that says they are five points behind Liverpool Arsenal. Still getting used to that whole sentence structure.
Jesse Marsch’s Leeds beat Liverpool and Bournemouth before the thrilling but unsuccessful loss to Tottenham. USMNT midfielder Tyler Adams has yet to return to Leeds’ lineup but Brenden Aaronson came back in a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad and impressed. He will join Rodrigo, Marc Roca, and Jack Harrison as a key component the rest of the way.
QUESTIONABLE: Patrick Bamford (groin), Illan Meslier (illness), Junior Firpo (groin). OUT: Tyler Adams (suspension), Stuart Dallas (thigh), Luis SInisterra (ankle), Archie Gray (ankle).
No known injury issues. Aymeric Laporte is at the World Cup with France while Julian Alvarez is in the final with Argentina.

Both Man Utd and Forest entered the World Cup break in winning ways but well below their preferred Premier League station.
The hosts have moved up the table following a slow start to life under manager Erik ten Hag. Man United sits fifth, three points off the top four with a match-in-hand on half the pack.
Forest has not been able to climb out of the bottom three, but has only lost once in its last five matches under Steve Cooper. The Tricky Trees are one point back of the 16th and 17th place sides, and two back of 15th.Erik
[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]
Officially free from Cristiano Ronaldo distractions, who will look even more free without the Portuguese GOAT and recent club albatross around? Our bets are Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, but Jadon Sancho and Antony might shine more, too.
Forest beat Valencia in a friendly on Dec. 16, with Taiwo Awoniyi and Emmanuel Dennis amongst the goals. Both forwards firing forward consistently would but the Tricky Trees neatly above the drop zone very, very soon.
QUESTIONABLE: Raphael Varane (World Cup Final participation), Lisandro Martinez (World Cup Final participation), Diogo Dalot (hamstring). OUT: Mason Greenwood (indefinite suspension), Axel Tuanzebe (other).
QUESTIONABLE: Harry Toffolo (thigh), Neco Williams (head), Omar Richards (lower leg). OUT: Giulian Biancone (knee), Cheikhou Kouyate (thigh), Moussa NIakhate (thigh).



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