Football can be a cruel game.
Kylian Mbappe was more than sensational in the 2022 World Cup final but returns home with a silver medal. Mbappe twice drew France level against Argentina but there was nothing he could do after converting his penalty in the shootout that decided this incredible showdown. Instead, the hero of the hour was Aston Villa shot-stopper, Emiliano Martinez, just as he was in the quarter-final meeting with the Netherlands, this most recent star-turn ensured Lionel Messi added the final piece of his jigsaw puzzle.
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Having known nothing but going this deep into a World Cup tournament Mbappe also became the fifth man to score in two finals and the second (after Brazil’s Vava in 1958 and 1962) to score in back-to-back finals. The lapse between goal number one and two (97 seconds) was the shortest recorded gap between two goals in a World Cup final. He also became the first player since Ronaldo in 2002 to register a World Cup final brace though Paris Saint-Germain teammate Messi would match that achievement deep into extra time.
What he can’t say is that he’s the youngest Golden Boot winner ever. That distinction still belongs to Thomas Müller who claimed that prize as a 20-year-old at the 2010 edition. Mbappe’s hat-trick goal, though, saw him stand alone as the most prolific finals goalscorer with four strikes. At one stage he was level with the aforementioned Hurst, Vava and Pele (all three).
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“There were large parts where it seemed Mbappe wasn’t going to get a kick in the game, then all of sudden he went on fire and was just terrifying,” Gary Neville reflected on ITV.
“Absolutely unbelievable how he brought France to life and back into it so we had a game. Argentina were so dominant for 80 minutes of that match.”