Final: Where was it won and lost?

France emerged the champion, beating Croatia 4-2 in the final to lift its second World Cup.

Published : Jul 15, 2018 23:04 IST , CHENNAI

France stuck to its blueprint and found resounding success.
France stuck to its blueprint and found resounding success.

France stuck to its blueprint and found resounding success.

A match that promised much in a tactical sense was decided by set-piece goals, particularly those scored by France, which sealed its second World Cup with a convincing 4-2 victory.

The Les Bleus was one of the teams that carried a threat from dead-ball situations throughout the tournament — six of its 14 goals came from free-kicks, corners and penalties. And Croatia itself suffered from conceding set-pieces in its quarterfinal and semifinal clashes against Russia and England.

Read: Mandzukic makes World Cup history with early own goal

Antoine Griezmann's free-kicks were incisive and resulted in two goals in the knockout stage (one in the quarterfinal against Uruguay and one in the final). The Atletico Madrid forward's delivery from corner in the semifinal against Belgium was headed in by Samuel Umtiti to drag France into the final.

So, Croatia knew it had to avoid conceding set-pieces in the defensive half to enhance its chances of lifting the World Cup.

Catastrophically, however, France's first two goals in the final were from set-pieces: a Marcelo Brozovic foul on Griezmann and the subsequent free-kick resulted in a Mario Mandzukic own goal.

And, just after Croatia had equalised with a set-piece of its own, a Griezmann corner and subsequent header from Blaise Matuidi caught the hand of Ivan Perisic. The referee awarded the Les Bleus a penalty after taking VAR assistance, and, as he had done all tournament, Griezmann converted from the spot, for his fourth goal of the tournament and the third from the spot.

France took a 2-1 lead into half-time and Croatia had to keep committing men forward in the second 45' to level the score for the second time.

It left itself vulnerable at the back as a result and France, being a good counter-attacking team, had the players to take advantage of this. Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe scored the third and fourth when Croatia was defensively vulnerable, giving France a three-goal cushion which was reduced to two by a Hugo Lloris mistake pounced on by Mandzukic.

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