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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

World Cup final 2018 as it happened: France beat Croatia 4-2 win World Cup

France become world champions for second time in their history as they win six-goal thriller in Moscow

9.10pm - Deschamps has his double

Didier Deschamps lifted the trophy as France captain in 1998 and he has now guided his country to the world title again, 20 years later as a manager.

Here are some of the key facts from the match

- First own goal in a World Cup final scored by Croatia's Mario Mandzukic

- First penalty awarded by VAR in a World Cup final

- Most goals in a World Cup since 1966 and most in regular time since 1958

- First teenager in Kylian Mbappe to score in a World Cup final since Pele in 1958

- Croatia are first side since West Germany in 1986 to score twice in a final and lose.

After years of poor finals - there have been as many goals in this final as in the previous four put together - we have had a cracker here and that seems appropriate for what has been a great tournament.

There have been 169 goals in 64 games, at an average of 2.64 per game.

That completes our live updates coverage of the final. For further news stay on the website, and check out our match report here.

8.55pm - France are world champions

It is over. The result was effectively 30 minutes ago but France are world champions.

A 4-2 win has made them world champions for the second time in 20 years.

Mario Mandzukic's own goal gave them the lead, and after Ivan Perisic equalised an Antoine Griezmann penalty and second half efforts from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe seal victory.

Mandzukic got a late consolation goal for Croatia but it was not enough.

France win it and will now aim to be the first side Brazil in 1962 to retain it in 2022 in Qatar.

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8.30pm - Croatia back in it, well sort of

An awful mistake from Huglo Lloris has gifted Croatia a lifeline.

The French goalkeeper tries to be too clever with a backpass and Mario Mandzukic ends up tapping it into an empty net.

4-2 down with 20 minutes to go. Croatia are still in this, just about.

Mandzukic the first man to score a goal and an own goal in a World Cup final.

8.25pm - Kylian Mbappe makes it 4-1

Game, set and match France. It is Kylian Mbappe who makes it 4-1 and it is the first goal by a teenager in a final in 60 years - the previous one being scored by some chap named Pele.

Croatia have been undone by some excellent finishing. Mbappe drills home a powerful low drive from the edge of the area as France become the first side since Brazil in 1970 to score four in a game.

8.20pm - Paul Pogba makes it 3-1 for France

That could be the clincher for France.

Croatia are again stretched by Kylian Mbappe, the ball finds itself to Antoine Griezmann, and he rolls the ball back to Manchester United's Paul Pogba, who rifles the ball home.

France celebrate as if they have won the game. Croatia are the comeback kings but even this might be a tall order for them.

8.15pm - Mbappe threat for Croatia as pitch invasion interrupts things

Croatia have to push for an equaliser and that will inevitably mean gaps at the back.

Kylian Mbappe stretches the Croatia defence on the counter-attack and he will become more of a threat as the game drags on at the same scoreline.

France have just made their first change with Steve NZonzi on for N'golo Kante, who was on a yellow card.

Before that change, however, the match was briefly interrupted by four pitch invaders, who are quickly cleared from the turf by security.

8.05pm - Back underway with France 2-1 ahead

Can France hold on?

Can Croatia reply once again?

Another goal will make this the most goals in a World Cup final since 1998.

Below is some of the best action from the final so far.

7.50pm - France lead at half time but Croatia have hope

France 2-1 up at the break. An exciting first half and the French are 45 minutes from the title.

Croatia though can take real heart from how they have played and troubled France.

Zlatko Dalic's men trailed against England at half time on Wednesday and came back to win.

They have drawn level from behind once already in this match and they need another response.

7.40pm - France back in front with VAR penalty

Controversy. France are back in front, and it is with the help of the Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR).

Ivan Perisic, just moments after pulling Croatia level, is penalised for a handball, which is given by referee Nestor Pitana after he had initially said no.

Croatia are not happy and they are even less so after Antoine Griezmann rolls in the spot-kick for his fourth goal of the tournament to put France 2-1.

We've had more goals in regular time in the first 38 minutes then we have had in the previous finals put together.

7.30pm - Croatia equalise

We have a real final on our hands as Croatia are deservedly back on level terms 10 minutes after going behind.

Ivan Perisic fires past Hugo Lloris from just outside the box and it is a terrific finish.

Croatia have largely been the better side so far, with France's goal coming from a rare foray forward.

Can they keep it up. Zlatko Dalic's side certainly have the momentum.

7.20pm - France take the lead

Harsh on Croatia after an impressive start but they are behind.

Mario Mandzukic scored the goal that put Croatia in the World Cup final, but he has now scored the first ever own goal in a World Cup final to put his side behind.

He inadvertently flicks Antonie Griezmann's curling free-kick into his own net in the 17th minute.

Croatia had started well but they now face the challenge of trying to fight back. They have been behind in every knockout game so if anyone can do this, it is Croatia.

7pm - World Cup final underway

We are go in the World Cup final.

Will it be France who win the tournament for a second time or will Croatia be first time champions?

It should be an exciting evening.

As a sidenote, the last three finals have gone on to extra time, and two of the last six (1994 and 2006) have been decided on penalties.

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6.40pm - France and Croatia fans in good spirits

France and Croatia fans are now in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow awaiting the start of the action at 7pm.

Excitement is building. Either France will become double champions, following their 1998 success, or Croatia become first time champions.

Here are some pictures of the fans arriving, and in, the stadium, as well as other supporters across the world.

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6.05pm - Teams named for World Cup final

The line-ups for the 21st Fifa World Cup final are out and unsurprisingly both managers have gone with an if it ain't broke, don't fix it philosophy in naming unchanged line-ups from the semi-finals.

Croatia's is possibly a surprise given they have gone to 120 minutes in all three of their knockout games, but Zlatko Dalic has no doubt challenged his players to give it their all one final time in their remarkable run in Russia.

Kick off is at 7pm UAE time.

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4.50pm - Croatia fans in party mood in Moscow's Red Square

Scores of Croatian fans took to the streets of Moscow on Sunday ahead of their country's first World Cup final appearance, cheering and waving flags in anticipation of the historic match against France.

With hours to go until kick off (7pm UAE) Croatian fans in the centre of Moscow appeared to out-number their more low-key French counterparts.

That may be due in part to the fact that Croatians are so thrilled that their team has made it this far.

Croatia eliminated hosts Russia in the quarter-finals and England in the semis, delighting their home country of 4.2 million people.

"Whether we win today or lose, Croatia is going to be on fire," Croatian fan Kristjan Alapic, from the city of Velika Gorica, told Reuters as he stood outside Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre.

"Tomorrow don't expect anybody to show up for work. This brings the whole population together."

When Croatia take on France at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium later on Sunday, the team hopes to settle an old score with the French dating back to the 1998 World Cup.

That year, Croatia's World Cup dreams were ended when France beat them 2-1 in the semi-finals before going on to win the tournament.

"It is unbelievable to be in the final for such a small country such as Croatia," said 47-year-old Croatian fan Denis Papac near Red Square. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

French fans were more reserved ahead of the final and seemed to be fewer in number than their Croatian counterparts.

"I've been seeing a lot of Croatians. That has really hit me," said 32-year-old French fan Benjamin Haddad. "The atmosphere is very Croatian right now."

Haddad could not explain why French fans were less visible on the streets of Moscow ahead of the match but suggested the enthusiasm of the Croatians could be tied to their team's unforeseen success.

"It's the first final in Croatia's history," he said. "It's a surprise for them to be here. It's an even more historical moment for them."

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3.45pm - England player ratings

The public consensus was one of overwhelming satisfaction - England made their country proud in reaching the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990.

Having lost to Belgium in the third-fourth place match, however, they return home with three defeats in the tournament, so there is clearly plenty of work to be done for manager Gareth Southgate and his staff ahead of Euro 2020.

A number of England players have boosted their reputation though - among them goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and defender Harry Maguire, while captain Harry Kane is poised to collect the Golden Boot unless France go goal crazy in tonight's final.

Slide through the images at to see how the England squad rated, and whether they are likely to be involved when the next big tournament comes around.

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1.44pm - Mixed feelings for Belgium

We still have time to kill before the 7pm (UAE) kick off, so perhaps we should look back on Saturday's third place play-off between Belgium and England.

Belgium will be acclaimed at celebrations in Brussels on Sunday with thousands expected to hail the team but they will carry mixed feelings about their achievement at the World Cup.

Victory in Saturday's third place play-off over England in Saint Petersburg ensured a best ever tournament return for the Belgians but they are likely to be long haunted by a nagging sense they might have done so much better.

The so-called "golden generation" had sights firmly set on winning the World Cup and were well on course after proving their mental fortitude in a dramatic come-from-behind win over Japan and then going toe-to-toe with Brazil and beating them in the quarter-final.

But a narrow semi-final defeat to France last Tuesday left them crestfallen, even though they admirably picked themselves up to easily beat England 2-0 in taking the bronze medal.

"I think if we had played the final we would have won the World Cup," said centre-back Vincent Kompany, who at 32 is unlikely to have another chance in Qatar in 2022.

"But third place is consolation for our supporters and a nice reward for us. We played seven matches here and won six of them."

Belgium's Eden Hazard celebrates with his bronze medal after the 2-0 victory over England in the World Cup third-place play-off in Saint Petersburg. Reuters
Belgium's Eden Hazard celebrates with his bronze medal after the 2-0 victory over England in the World Cup third-place play-off in Saint Petersburg. Reuters

Eden Hazard, the Belgium captain and scorer of the second goal against England, spoke to reporters after the match too. What he said might have Chelsea fans worried.

“After six wonderful years at Chelsea, it might be time to discover something different," Hazard told reporters.

"I can decide if I want to stay or go, but Chelsea will make the final decision. For my career, certainly after this World Cup, I’m at a moment where I might change. I will go on holiday and ask myself the right questions."

Whether through circumstance or the club's reluctance to sell, keeping Hazard - who has won two Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one League Cup and one Europa League trophy during his six years at Chelsea - at the club last season was arguably their best bit of business. Doing so for a second successive summer would be staggering.

Read Steve Luckings' comment on how Hazard's words may have just burst the bubble of new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri.

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11.20am - The countdown

Covering the match for us from the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow is our very own John McAuley.

As you can see from his tweet, it's no big deal.

We will also have Richard Jolly providing analysis on tonight's winners, while Gary Meenaghan will take a look at where it went wrong for the losing side.

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9.20am - World Cup final

After 63 games of what has been an incredible World Cup we're down to the final two as France take on Croatia for the right to be crowned champions of 2018.

The game kicks off at 7pm UAE time.

Didier Deschamps is potentially 90 minutes away from a unique World Cup double. Should France beat Croatia, the France manager would join Brazil's Mario Zagallo and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer as the only men to lift the trophy as both player and coach.

As Ian Hawkey points out, his dogmatic approach is one of the main reasons have reached a second successive major final after falling short at the final hurdle at Euro 2016.

France, bidding to add a second star to their crest following their success on home soil in 1998, have got the unanimous backing of The National staff to prevail in Sunday's final at the Luhzniki Stadium on Sunday. See if you agree with their predictions here.

But they face a Croatia side that midfielder Ivan Rakitic says will be playing with "4.5 million players on the pitch" as the Balkan state attempt to win football's greatest prize for the first time in their 27-year history.

France have shown glimpses of their devastating talent in patches in their previous six games to reach Moscow. The workmanlike performances in the group phase was followed by the evisceration of Argentina in the last 16, the masterful control of Uruguay in the quarter-finals before blunting a brilliant Belgium side in the semis.

Croatia, on the other hand, have had to do it the hard way. The 3-0 win over Argentina was arguably the standout result of the group stage, but extra time has been needed in each of their three knockout games, against Denmark, Russia and England, with the first two going to penalties before Croatia prevailed.

Mario Mandzukic, left, fired Croatia into Sunday's World Cup final with a winner against England, while Kylian Mbappe of France has cored three times in Russia to propel Les Bleus to the final. AFP
Mario Mandzukic, left, fired Croatia into Sunday's World Cup final with a winner against England, while Kylian Mbappe of France has cored three times in Russia to propel Les Bleus to the final. AFP

CROATIA

Rakitic says he is unconcerned that Croatia have already played 90 minutes more at this World Cup than their French counterparts, while Blaise Matuidi says the French camp have been impressed with the energy levels and fitness of their opponents in reaching the championship match.

Key to Croatia's chances of lifting the World Cup will be containing Kylian Mbappe. The French flier has been one of the tournament’s headline acts, allying searing pace with an ability to offer the truly spectacular.

John McAuley highlights three areas Croatia must master if they are to beat France in Sunday's final.

Zlatko Dalic will lead Croatia into the World Cup final against France having only taken over the job 10 months ago. Reuters
Zlatko Dalic will lead Croatia into the World Cup final against France having only taken over the job 10 months ago. Reuters

Our man in Moscow has certainly been busy in the buildup to the most anticipated match of the year.

One protagonist of particular resonance with UAE football fans is the manager who will be directing operations from the Croatia dugout.

Zlatko Dalic, the former Al Ain manager, had given three years to the UAE club, three years in which he helped lift them back to the summit of Emirati football, to within a penalty kick of winning the Asian Champions League. A single goal across two legs in the 2016 final deprived the country’s most decorated club of the continent’s premier club trophy, of the one title they covet above all else.

I will stay Ainawi for ever,” said Dalic, remembering fondly his time at the Garden City club. He was equally emotive during Saturday's pre-match press conference, saying: "Simply, this is the greatest moment in the lives of all of us."

Read John McAuley's profile of the Croatia manager here.

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in training on Saturday ahead of the World Cup final. AP Photo
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in training on Saturday ahead of the World Cup final. AP Photo

FRANCE

In the French camp, goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris attempted to portray a squad focused on the job at hand rather than one being swept away by an apparent and euphoric crowd back home.

Lloris insisted in the pre-match media briefing on Saturday that his team are not getting carried away by their fans’ optimism - especially given the talent of their relentless opponents.

“To be honest, we are in our little bubble,” the Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper said. “Of course, we do know what is happening in France; we saw the images following the [semi-final] against Belgium.

"But we are far from thinking we have reached our goal. We are going to face a high-quality opponent and they deserve as much credit as we do because they also reached the final.

“We need to perform at a very high level and play a perfect match to win tomorrow. So once again we are going to need a great French team to win.”

The Barasti SuperDome in Dubai can hold up to 1,200 fans to watch the 2018 World Cup. Seven Media
The Barasti SuperDome in Dubai can hold up to 1,200 fans to watch the 2018 World Cup. Seven Media

WATCHING THE MATCH IN THE UAE

If you're planning on heading out to watch Sunday's match we have a comprehensive list of venues in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai that will be screening the game and the promotions on offer.

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Read more:

Profile: Zlatko Dalic, the Croatian manager on the cusp of World Cup glory who made his name at Al Ain

Extra Time podcast: Comeback kings Croatia to come up short against Mbappe

2018 World Cup final predictions: will it be France or Croatia who lift the trophy?

Imperious France have all the tools to deliver a second World Cup trophy

France to use Euro 2016 heartache to spur them on to World Cup glory, says Deschamps

Richard Jolly: Luka Modric's place in the World Cup final with Croatia is a triumph of character

Ivan Rakitic confident Croatia will have the 'energy' to defeat France in World Cup final

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