The World Cup final is typically a tightly wound, low-scoring affair and, since the turn of the young century, teams have been separated by narrow margins or dreaded penalty kicks.
This summer’s four-week spectacle in Russia, however, defied convention from the very start, and so it was fitting that on the last day of a glorious tournament, France won the championship Sunday in a wild affair with Croatia, 4-2, for its second title in 20 years.
Vive le France. Vive Les Bleus.
Ending a string of three consecutive finals decided after regulation, France scored three straight goals in a 27-minute stretch bridging halftime.
The six goals were as many as the previous four finals combined. They were the most in a final since England beat Germany, 4-2, in extra time in 1966 and the most in regulation since Brazil’s 5-2 triumph over Sweden in 1958.
Didier Deschamps became the third man to win the World Cup as a player and coach, joining Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer.
Croatia, a country of some 4.4 million, was attempting to become the smallest nation since Uruguay in 1950 to raise the trophy.
An own goal, a penalty kick and strikes by Paul Pogba and 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe elevated the French in an open and entertaining match before a global TV audience estimated at more than 1 billion and a sellout crowd of 78,011 featuring 10 heads of state.
A day before the summit with President Trump in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin was joined on the VIP level by, among others, French President Emmanuel Macron and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.