World Cup Final 2018: Manchester United, teenage kicks and own goals: Key stats as France beat Croatia
The World Cup has been a spectacle to admire once again. The month-long tournament that is revered and awaited by fans for four long years lived up to the hype yet again this time. Though it is sadly now over, the World Cup leaves behind memories of exciting football, tightly poised encounters and in the true nature of the World Cup, smashed records as it passed.
And the final was no different. The showpiece event in Moscow certainly lived up to the bill, providing spectators with an action-packed game of football that is sure to live long in the memory of fans.
Mario Mandzukic scored an own goal to kick off proceedings, but Ivan Perisic quickly made up for that and levelled the score with just 28 minutes on the clock. Antoine Griezmann scored a penalty soon after, just before the break, before Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe chipped in with strikes to take France to the cusp. Mandzukic atoned for his early own goal by capitalising on a bizarre Hugo Lloris error to score from point-blank range but it was too little too late for the Croatians, with France running out 4-2 winners.
#5 VAR makes an appearance
This has been the first World Cup in which VAR has been incorporated, and as with anything that is new at the highest level, there were many-a-debate about whether the inclusion was actually beneficial for the beautiful game.
Some argued that the practice allowed the referees a chance to review critical instances in a match and make the correct call, which can be the difference between a team winning and losing as the crunch knockout ties played out. On the other hand, many said that though the purpose was good, it's implementation was dodgy at best, with no one really understanding when and how a stop in play for VAR was to be carried out. Some of Morrocco's games come to mind.
The inclusion of VAR in this edition of the World Cup has been controversial to put it lightly, and its supporters will say that the inclusion was justified by its usage to make a critical call in the final. The penalty decision was another debate within itself, but it has been another stat that has been written in the history of the World Cup forever.