Pogba and Mbappe goals finish off Croatia in six-goal thriller

France 4 Croatia 2

Mandzukic 18 o.g Perisic 28 Griezmann 38pen

Pogba 53  Mbappe 65 Mandzukic 69


The first goal came began when the clever Griezmann made it look as if Brozovic had kicked him.

At first I thought Varane had glanced in Griezmann’s free-kick.

Not realising that Mandzukic had headed the 12th own-goal of the tournament.

Croatia’sdefensive line was far too deep and the ball beat Varane’s head but hit Mandzukic so close to the goal that keeper Subasic had no chance.

Before reaching the final, Croatia had gone gone behind in all of their knock-out games

The wonderfully incisive Kante picked up a yellow card in 27 minutes after clipping Perisic. The Chelsea midfielder knew how dangerous the Inter man can be.

The equaliser was Perisic’s 21st goal for Croatia and one of the best team goals of the tournament.

They began the move by firing a free-kick wide to Atletico Madrid right back Vrsaljko. He headed back across the box, Mandzukic went for the second header, Vida prodded the ball back to Perisic, who jabbed the ball past Kante and, before Pavard could block, fired a bullet shot into the net to make it 1-1.

France soon hit back with a corner which hit Perisic on the arm and the VAR refs told Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana to leave the pitch and watch the slow-motion replays. He did that and eventually signaled a penalty.

Griezmann coldly made it 2-1 from the spot.

When Croatia took a left wing corner, Rebic missed a chance to make it 2-2. Then left back Hernandez was booked for a foul on Rebic.

Croatia took two corners on the left, Umtiti (Barcelona) was injured, then Rakitic (Barcelona) took a good corner from the right but Vida (Besiktas) misconnected with his header.

HT : France 2 Croatia 1.

The last time a World Cup Final had three goals in the first half was West Germany 2. Netherlands 1 in 1974. The referee was English that day and only Jack Taylor would have had the balls to give a penalty against Germany in Munich when Bertie Vogts brought down Johann Cruyff in the box.

If any other team were 2-1 down to France  now, I thought, France would win.

But of all the teams I’ve seen, Croatia are the most spirited and inventive and the only one who might score another equaliser.

At the break BBC pundit Jurgen Klinsmann said, “This game is far from over.”

On the cute dive by Griezmann, Klinsmann said, “I didn’t think it was a foul” and I thought: Me and Jurgen are on the same page.

Second half, Croatia kept attacking  and Rebic had a left foot shot tipped over.

Mbappe held off Vida and had a shot that Subasic saved with his left boot.

N’Zonzi replaced Kante, a clinical substitution in a key phase of the match.

Croatia had been attacking with verve and imagination. Even their keep-ball patterns are promising, always stretching the opponent, always promising a chance, rarely wasting a ball. And Perisic was still a threat.

By 56, I was asking: Is Pogba playing?

Then big midfielder released Mbappe with a phenomenal long pass down the right flank and then he scored with a majestic left foot shot. Griezmann set him  up for a right foot shot that was blocked but his shot with his other foot was beautifully placed.

France 3 Croatia 1.

During Euro 2016, I was struggling the define what kind of footballer Paul Pogba is and decide what role he should be playing. So were many other people.

My conclusion was: Pogba’s main value is in interventions in the front third of the pitch: shots and headers and crosses and knockdowns and lay-offs.

I now thought: Of all the teams in this World Cup, France are the best-equipped to defend a two-goal lead.

Almost immediately, Mbappe rifled home a low shot from the edge of the box to make it 4-1.

Then Umtiti passed back to his keeper and Hugo Lloris tried to dribble round crafty Juventus veteran Mandzukic but kicked the ball against the centre forward’s right boot and the ball rebounded past him into the net for 4-2.

Tolisso (Bayern) replaced Matuidi and then Fakir (Lyon) came on and got a shot on target but Croatia were still battling and Rakitic fired a fierce shot over the bar in 89.

Hugo Lloris? Nice to see the Spurs captain lift the World Cup two years after I said he was past his best. Born on the Riviera, young Hugo is the son of a banker and this was his 104th cap.

VERDICT : Congratulations to both teams on a fabulous World Cup Final.


Maybe the best World Cup Final on colour television since Brazil in 1970, which was the first. Pele & Jairzinho &  Tostao took Italy apart in Mexico City.That Italian side was exceptional and maybe the best team to ever lose a World Cup Final.

Croatia are the best team to lose a World Cup Final in this 21st century.

France won the World Cup again.Well done!

And Luka Modric was voted Player of the Tournament.