MOSCOW – France won its second-ever soccer World Cup title, defeating Croatia 4-2 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on July 15 in a match that was briefly interrupted by a field invasion claimed by the dissident punk-art collective Pussy Riot.
Croatia dominated the opening stages of the match on July 15, but striker Mario Mandzukic headed an Antoine Griezmann free-kick into his own net in the 18th minute.
It was the 12th own goal of the World Cup, an all-time record. However, it was the first-ever own goal in the final of a World Cup.
Croatia leveled the score at 1-1 on a goal from Ivan Perisic in the 28th minute.
It was the third goal in seven games in Russia for Perisic, three fewer than tournament top scorer Harry Kane of England.
Ten minutes later, Griezmann restored France’s lead and scored his fourth goal of the tournament by netting a 38th minute penalty that was awarded after a recommendation by the video assistant referee (VAR).
The spot-kick was given after the ball bounced off the arm of Croatia’s Perisic at a corner before hitting his leg and going out of play.
France extended the lead to 4-1 with goals from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe in the 59th and 65th minutes before Mandzukic pulled one back for the Croatians in the 69th.
It was France’s first World Cup title since 1998, while Croatia had never played in a World Cup final before.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met with French President Emmanuel Macron and their Croatian counterpart, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, before the match.
Macron and Grabar-Kitarovic were among 10 heads of state and national leaders at Luzhniki Stadium, including Putin and the presidents of Belarus, Moldova, Gabon and Sudan.
The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, was also there. Qatar hosts the next World Cup in 2022 and the emir attended a handover ceremony at the Kremlin with Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino earlier on July 15.
Some Western European governments stayed away from the World Cup in Russia amid the fallout from the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in England in March.
The match was briefly disrupted by four people who invaded the field, but they were quickly tackled by security, and the game resumed after a delay of about one minute.
Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for the field invasion.
On a Facebook post the group said it was a protest with demands, including the release of political prisoners, stopping illegal detentions at political rallies, and allowing political competition in Russia.
Pussy Riot rose to prominence with their daring outdoor performances critical of Putin in 2012 that resulted in two members being sent to prison for nearly two years.
The Associated Press, dpa, and Guardian.uk