France is World Champion

France team celebrate winning the World Cup.France team celebrate winning the World Cup.

France celebrated its second World Cup win on Sunday, 20 years after maiden triumph, overcoming a passionate Croatia side 4-2 in one of the most gripping finals in recent history.

The breathless victory under stormy skies at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium means Didier Deschamps’ side - balancing youthful zest and tournament nous - has buried the pain of defeat in the Euro 2016 final on home soil, AFP reported.

For Croatia, a country of just over four million people, the loss spells bitter pain but its fans celebrated the best run in the nation’s history, which featured a stunning win against Argentina and a semifinal victory against England.

Croatia started the match strongly but an own goal from Mario Mandzukic and a controversial VAR-assisted penalty from Antoine Griezmann following an Ivan Perisic leveler gave France a 2-1 half-time lead.

Further strikes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe gave France a comfortable cushion before a late consolation from Mandzukic after an error by French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

France captain Lloris lifted the World Cup trophy as torrential rain cascaded down in the Russian capital.

Deschamps, thrown into the air by his ecstatic players as they celebrated their win, said the victory was “just as big and just as beautiful” as the 1998 triumph in France.

Deschamps, who captained the team when they lifted the World Cup in 1998, has become just the third man to win the trophy as both a player and a manager after Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo.

Croatia dominated the match for large periods, enjoying 61 percent of possession, but the French defense for the most part held firm and France took their chances with devastating efficiency.

Arguably the turning point of the match was when referee Nestor Pitana awarded France a penalty for handball after consulting the video assistant referee.

As thunder rolled around the stadium, Griezmann was made to wait but he held his nerve to lash the spot-kick into the net.

France’s tournament started slowly before gathering tremendous momentum in the knockout rounds.

Even before the final whistle in Moscow, crowds packed the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris in a repeat of the scenes of 20 years ago when more than a million people partied there.

Cheers rang out throughout the country for each of four goals, transforming the young team into national icons. Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said his side’s luck had run out after the VAR penalty.

Disappointed but proud, Croatian fans in Zagreb applauded their team as their “heroes”.

Croatia’s Luka Modric won the best player of the World Cup award, with Mbappe picking up the prize for best young player.

Belgium stopper Thibaut Courtois was named the best goalkeeper of the tournament while England’s Harry Kane won the Golden Boot as top-scorer.

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