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 Messi spearheads Argentina to World Cup title in cliff-hanger vs France

Lionel Messi and Argentina won the FIFA World Cup for the third time after beating defending champion France on penalties.

Lionel Messi spearheaded Argentina to victory in a cliff-hanger of a FIFA World Cup final on Sunday that his team dominated in the first half with a 2-0 lead but then rival France bounced back in incredible style after 80 minutes with two goals in quick succession to equalise and take the match to extra time and then to a penalty shootout.

Argentina eventually defeated France 4-2 in the penalty shootout after Lionel Messi scored twice in a 3-3 draw that featured a hat-trick for France hero Kylian Mbappe who eventually won the golden boot for the highest number of goals in the tournament. Mbappé also scored the first hat trick in a World Cup final in 56 years.

Messi has created history and equalled the feat of football great Diego Maradona who led Argentina to victory in the World Cup in 1986. Messi now has the only title that was missing in his extraordinary career in his last World Cup appearance.

It was a high-voltage drama of wildly swinging fortunes that saw the game reaching its highest level of performance.

Argentina had looked to be cruising to an easy victory after Messi scored the first goal off a penalty and a brilliant goal by Angel Di Maria in the first half put them in total control but Mbappe converted an 80th-minute penalty and volleyed in an equaliser a minute later to take the game to extra time.

Messi scored another superb goal in extra time to put Argentina ahead, but France equalised through a penalty kick which Mbappe netted in characteristic style.