Argentina have won the World Cup for a third time, requiring a penalty shootout to do so when an epic contest with France finished 3-3 after extra-time.
Kylian Mbappe became just the second man to score a hat-trick in the World Cup final, but it was not enough, with Lionel Messi winning the battle of the PSG superstars thanks to his brace for Argentina.
The definition of a see-saw affair saw the South Americans go 2-0 up, before being pegged back and dragged to extra-time. Messi’s second and Mbappe’s third took the game to penalties where Emi Martinez made a save and Gonzalo Montiel scored the winning strike.
Lionel Scaloni’s side completely dominated the vast majority of normal time, finding themselves two goals to the good at half-time through Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria and looking largely unruffled.
Di Maria won a penalty after being felled by Ousmane Dembele, which allowed Lionel Messi to slot home 23 minutes in, scoring his sixth goal of the competition.
Di Maria then netted himself, rounding off a stunning team move on 36 minutes which featured Messi, Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Rodriguez and will go down as one of the goals of the tournament.
80 minutes had passed before France even looked like a threat, but two goals in two minutes from Kylian Mbappe changed everything and took the game to extra-time. The second of his brace a memorable volley after a one-two with Marcus Thuram on the edge of the box.
The remarkable turnaround took the match to extra-time and Argentina were rattled, but they regained their composure as the added period began and Messi found the winner in the second half.
Substitute Lautaro Martinez was played through on goal but from a tight angle, producing a fine save from Hugo Lloris, but the rebound fell to Messi who poked home.
That looked to be it, but France were awarded a penalty when an Mbappe shot struck an Argentine arm and the prolific forward completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot.
Then came the shootout, which begun with Mbappe and Messi finding the back of the net yet again, both scoring the first for their countries.
Kingsley Coman was next up for France and he saw his effort saved by Emiliano Martinez, while Aurélien Tchouaméni made another mistake for the French, dragging his effort wide. Gonzalo Montiel was the man to score the winning spot-kick for Argentina, who were perfect with their efforts.
It was a combative start to the game, with neither side afraid to get physical early on and encouraging Polish referee Szymon Marciniak to have a word with one or two players.
There was no doubt which team were on top from early on, though, and that was Argentina, playing with more intensity and tempo, while having more of the ball and looking dangerous as they buzzed around outside the French penalty area.
It was a French mistake within their own penalty box which caused the opener, with Ousmane Dembele bringing down Di Maria in the box 23 minutes in.
The former Manchester United winger skipped past Dembele and then went down after their legs tangled, replays showed that the Frenchman had just clipped Di Maria in unquestionably naive defending from the forward.
Up stepped Messi who ran up, stuttered, then sent Hugo Lloris the wrong way, comfortably rolling the ball home to the goalkeeper’s left.
Argentina continued to be the far superior team over the sluggish French and the South Americans cut through them in immense style again a few minutes later.
The stunning counter-attacking goal saw Alexis Mac Allister play the ball into Messi, who flicked it out to Julian Alvarez, with the Manchester City man then finding the run of Mac Allister who had burst onwards from midfield.
The Brighton star showed calmness and quality as he then swept the ball inside to the onrushing Di Maria who finished with ease to complete a rapid, flowing, skilful move which left the defending champions looking some way off the pace of their opponents.
It was an incredibly one-sided first half, with France looking flat and five minutes before half-time Didier Deschamps rolled the dice to mix things up, removing Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud, replacing them with Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram.
It seemed like drastic action but something had to be done. Giroud had been struggling with a knee problem before the game, while Dembele had been so bad in the first 40 minutes that he could not complain.
The half-time whistle blew without France having a shot at goal or a touch in the Argentine box.
Whether it was the illness that had been spreading in the French camp before the final or there was no such excuse, France simply could not get going and the situation continued in the second half as Argentina continued to have their own way.
Di Maria was replaced on 64 minutes by Marcos Acuna, with the Juventus star receiving a rousing reception for his efforts having turned in a memorable performance.
It really did look like things were just going to just ebb away for France as they were comfortably held at bay, but it suddenly all turned around, starting with substitute Kolo Muani winning a penalty when Nicolas Otamendi tripped him on 80 minutes.
Kylian Mbappe stepped up and slotted the ball past the diving Emiliano Martinez and into the corner of the goal to the goalkeeper’s right.
That was with 10 minutes to play, and with nine minutes left the score was level as Mbappe doubled his tally to stun the South Americans.
The PSG superstar played a one-two with Thuram on the edge of the box before volleying home impressively past Martinez and taking his own tally to seven for the World Cup.
Having controlled the vast majority of the match, suddenly Argentina were rattled and on the back foot as France were full of energy and looking dangerous to win it at the death.
Messi is never far away from a moment of magic, though, and he nearly avoided extra-time with a curling effort from outside the area 97 minutes in which was well saved by Lloris.
Extra-time was predictably tense, with both sides having chances but also clearly tiring but there were two more goals to come before the penalties, both in the second half.
First Messi gave Argentina the lead again as he pounced on a rebound from a Lautaro Martinez shot, before Mbappe scored for the third time from the penalty spot after a handball in the box from an Mbappe shot. (Metro)