Lionel Messi Ends World Cup Career With Victory, Kylian Mbappé Scores Hat Trick In Defeat

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The storylines practically write themselves. Kylian Mbappé, arguably the best soccer player in the world, tries to propel France to back-to-back World Cup titles while Argentina’s Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest soccer player in history, tries to win his first World Cup in what is likely his last attempt.

Lionel Messi of Argentina and Kylian Mbappé of France during the FIFA World Cup Final.
Lionel Messi of Argentina and Kylian Mbappé of France during the FIFA World Cup Final. (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

After a first half dominated by Argentina, it looked as if Messi was going to finally get the monkey off his back in his final attempt. As a result, the Argentines led 2-0 at the break, thanks in part to a Messi goal on a penalty kick.

Argentina later got a goal from Ángel Di María to extend the lead.

At the half, France superstar Kylian Mbappé had touched the ball just 11 times. It appeared as though the world wasn’t ready for a changing-of-the-guard.

Mbappé comes alive in second half

But just like the superstars we’re used to watching in America, the best show up when it matters most. And Kylian Mbappé is no exception. Just like Tom Brady leading the Patriots back from down 28-3 in the Super Bowl, Mbappé got France right back into the match.

Two goals in 93 seconds after being held down all match and suddenly the World Cup was square at two goals apiece.

Messi nearly wins it late

Lionel Messi, arguably soccer’s GOAT, nearly had the most epic goal in recent World Cup history. On literally the final rush of regular time, Messi had the ball on his boot. A chance to cement his place in history.

Alas, it was not to be.

With that, the match headed into extra time. Possibly the two best soccer players in the entire world going head-to-head, playing for their countries. The entire world watching. Sports writes the best scripts. Period.

Messi, Mbappé trade goals in extra time

To be the true GOAT, you have to have a GOAT moment. And it looked like Lionel Messi absolutely got his GOAT moment. He scored his second goal of the contest in the 111th minute — the 21st minute of extra time — to give Argentina a 3-2 lead over France. It appeared to be the World Cup winner.

But to be the true GOAT, you have to have a GOAT moment. And it looked like Kylian Mbappé absolutely got his GOAT moment. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

A hat trick in the World Cup where two of the goals tie the match, once in the final 10 minutes of regular time and again in the final three minutes of extra time? Absolutely unheard of.

And with France on the verge of a game-winner, Argentina keeper Emi Martinez saves the World Cup for his homeland. Neither Lionel Messi nor Kylian Mbappé could have done much more for their nations in the match.

Messi, Argentina win World Cup in penalty kicks over Mbappé, France

Kylian Mbappé led off the penalty kicks for France and he, of course, scored. It was the fourth ball he put into the net on Sunday.

Next up was Lionel Messi. Again, no doubt what that result was going to be: goal. But now it would be up to the rest of their countrymen to determine the winner.

On the very next attempt, Emi Martinez came up with another massive save for Argentina. After saving the game in extra time, he gave the Argentines the leg-up they needed.

Argentina subsequently scored on the next kick, taking a 2-1 lead in PKs. France missed on their next attempt and that was essentially all she wrote.

Gonzalo Montiel ultimately clinched the title for Argentina.

Argentina wins the World Cup in penalty kicks. Lionel Messi, in likely his final World Cup match, gets a tournament championship. It was the last thing needed for his GOAT resume. And to do it, he defeats likely the next great soccer superstar, Kylian Mbappé.

Sports is just the best.


Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ

Written by Dan Zaksheske

Dan began his sports media career at ESPN, where he survived for nearly a decade. Once the Stockholm Syndrome cleared, he made his way to Outkick. He is secure enough in his masculinity to admit he is a cat-enthusiast with three cats, one of which is named “Brady” because his wife wishes she were married to Tom instead of him.

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