Viet Nam News
MOSCOW — France won the 2018 World Cup after defeating Croatia 4-2 in the final played in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow yesterday thanks to an own goal from Mario Mandzukic, a penalty from Antoine Griezmann and second-half strikes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, while Ivan Perisic and Mandzukic scored for the Croatians.
Mandzukic was unlucky to flick a free kick from the man of the match Griezmann into his own net after 18 minutes, although Perisic’s 29th minute left foot shot gave Croatia hope before Griezmann scored a 38th-minute penalty after the referee used the VAR to determine Perisic had committed a handball.
France never looked completely in control against a brave Croatia side, but Mbappe was vital for the French on the break, helping set up Pogba for the third goal and then scoring the fourth from outside of the area.
Mandzukic’s fortunate goal gave Croatia late hope, but with Samuel Umtiti outstanding in defence France held on for their second World Cup title.
VAR’s role confirmed
Whether or not you agree with referee Nestor Pitana’s decision to award France a penalty for handball after consulting with the Video Assistant Referee in the 37th minute of the World Cup final, probably depends on whether you are French or Croatian, but there is little doubt that when the Argentinean pointed to the penalty spot it meant that VAR is here to stay.
There is no doubt that Antoine Griezmann’s corner hit Ivan Perisic’s outstretched arm, but if it was intentional, or whether the Croatian was merely surprised by Balise Matudi failing to make contact with the ball is questionable. Nevertheless, Pitana looked at the video and probably made decision which allowed Griezmann to put France 2-1 ahead in the Luzhniki Stadium.
VAR has been a constant factor in the World Cup and it is the third time the French have benefitted from its use; being awarded a penalty against Australia in their opening game and with Paul Pogba’s winning strike in the same match adjudged to have crossed the goal-line.
If VAR hadn’t existed, how different could the World Cup have been? Well, perhaps France wouldn’t have won their group and would have faced Croatia, not in the final, but in the last 16 instead of Denmark, who would have taken on Argentina and Leo Messi and then perhaps Uruguay in the quarter-finals.
It could have been a very different World Cup, but with the VAR system in place, even though it will take time to get used to (for fans, player and officials), we can be more confident that the right result is reached. — XINHUA