France crowned Football World Cup champions after demolition of Croatia in final

Relive 1 NEWS NOW's live coverage of the 2018 Football World Cup final from Moscow, Russia.

5:30am

Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron present the trophy to France captain Hugo Lloris, who naturally celebrates in style with his teammates. That'll be all from our coverage of the Football World Cup, thank you for joining us these last four weeks. We'll almost certainly be back in four years time, when Qatar host the tournament.

5:28am

The heavens have opened over Moscow! The players and FIFA dignitaries, along with the French and Croatian heads of state are now completely drenched.

5:26am

The quartet of match officials are also honoured for their work in the final. The runners-up Croatians are welcomed onto the stage to receive their silver medals.

5:22am

After some lengthy celebrations, France are finally ready to lift the trophy. Kylian Mbappe is awarded the young player of the tournament for his stunning display throughout the World Cup.

Luka Modric is named the winner of the golden ball for the best player. England's Harry Kane is the winner of the golden boot, with six goals to his name. Thibaut Courtois of Belgium wins the golden glove for the best goalkeeper.

4:53am: FULLTIME - France 4 Croatia 2

That's it! France are the champions of the world once again! Croatia are beaten finalists but can hold their heads high! Les Bleus celebrate in style, they've been the best on display throughout Russia, and take the cup home as a result.

4:50am: 90+2 mins - France 4 Croatia 2

Pogba and Mbappe stride forward again, this time they don't look for goal, simply just holding possession to try and run the clock down.

4:48am: 90 mins - France 4 Croatia 2

Croatia really desperate now, with everyone forward. Vida up from centre back onto the left wing finds Rakitic, who shoots - well over the bar from distance though. Word is that we'll have five minutes added time.

4:44am: 86 mins - France 4 Croatia 2

Into the final 10 minutes and Croatia still searching for goals. Pjaca, on as a sub, tries to exchange passes with Vrsaljko, but the right back isn't on the same page as the ball goes out for a goal kick.

4:37am: 78 mins - France 4 Croatia 2

Chance for Croatia now! Kramaric beats his man on the left, before finding Rakitic inside him. The midfielder's shot rolls agonisingly past the post. Croatia have now had 14 shots to France's seven.

4:34am: 75 mins - France 4 Croatia 2

Vrsaljko and Perisic combine down the right, but Varane clears the danger with the header. Strinic now has a go down the left, but again France clear. Vrsaljko tries to shoot from deep, but Lloris watches it out untroubled.

4:27am: 69 mins - France 4 Croatia 2

GOAL!!! Croatia get one back! Lloris is caught napping on the ball, and Mandzukic appears to close him down, blocking his attempted clearance and diverting it goalward. What a final.

4:24am: 66 mins - France 4 Croatia 1

GOAL!!! France are on FIRE! Mbappe scores a fourth for France. Hernandez comes in from the left, before finding the teenager unmarked through the middle. Mbappe takes a touch, before firing a rocket past the shellshocked Subasic. Mbappe becomes the youngest to score in a World Cup final since Pele himself!

4:18am: 60 mins - France 3 Croatia 1

GOAL!!! Surely that seals it for France! Pogba plays Mbappe down the right hand side, he cuts back in before finding Griezmann. Griezmann finds Pogba again, before his shot is blocked. The rebound falls nicely for Pogba, who lashes in the second attempt. Croatia with a mountain to climb.

4:13am: 55 mins - France 2 Croatia 1

Rakitic crosses in for Mandzukic, but Lloris comes out to punch away - only he makes a hash of it to force the ball out for a Croatian corner. 

4:11am: 53 mins - France 2 Croatia 1

Pogba plays Mbappe clean through down the right and he's too quick for Strinic! Subasic saves the shot and Croatia hit back - only now there's a pitch invasion!

Slight delay in play now as the intruders a cleared. Croatia restart.

4:06am: 48 mins - France 2 Croatia 1

Chance for Croatia to start the second half! Rakitic plays Rebic through the middle, he gets a shot away and Lloris reaches out at full stretch to tip it over the bar. Corner for Croatia.

Modric takes, but the ball doesn't drop cleanly for Vida. France out of danger.

4:04am: 46 mins - France 2 Croatia 1

France get the second half started, they're now just 45 minutes away from their second ever World Cup win.

3:48am: HALFTIME - France 2 Croatia 1

What a half. Croatia have by far had the better opportunities, yet France are ahead through an own goal and a penalty. We'll be back soon for the resumption of this thrilling World Cup final.

3:45am: 45 mins - France 2 Croatia 1

Umtiti limps from the field, we're going to have three minutes of added time as Rakitic stands over the corner. He takes, but the ball misses everyone and goes behind for a goal kick.

3:44am: 44 mins - France 2 Croatia 1

Free kick for Croatia in the France half. Modric takes and finds Perisic who heads it down for Lovren, his shot hammers off Pavard and out for a corner. Umtiti turns it behind for another corner.

Rakitic takes again, but Giroud clears. Umtiti stays down for France, but Croatia play on before Pavard sends the ball out for a corner.

3:39am: 39 mins - France 2 Croatia 1

GOAL!!! Corner for France, won by Giroud. Griezmann to take again, Matuidi storms into the area but puts the header wide. France are pleading for handball against Perisic - and they have a serious claim there!

We're going to the VAR for the first time in a World Cup final. The penalty has been given and Croatia are livid! Griezmann will take the spot kick.

He goes bottom left, and he scores!!! France hit the front once again!

3:28am: 28 mins - France 1 Croatia 1

GOAL!!! Perisic breaks again, this time through the middle, but Kante takes him out. The France midfielder becomes the first player booked in the World Cup final as Croatia have a free kick.

Modric and Rakitic stand over it. Modric floats it to the far post where Vrsaljko heads to Mandzukic, who nods it back down to Perisic. The winger takes a touch before belting it home in style! Croatia are level!!!

3:21am: 21 mins - France 1 Croatia 0

Croatia with the chance to equalise from a free kick, wide on the right. Modric stands over it and curls the ball into the box, but Vida's header is over the bar.

3:19am: 19 mins - France 1 Croatia 0

GOAL!!! First real opportunity for France as Mbappe dances into the area. His attempted pullback is cleared by Vida out to Griezmann, but he's bought down by Brozovic to win France a free kick.

Griezmann to take, everyone except Kante and Lloris appear to be in the box - it's in! France open the scoring but Mandzukic has put it into his own net!

3:15am: 15 mins - France 0 Croatia 0

Perisic breaks down the left again! Croatia with a real chance now, but the cross is blocked out by Varane! France living dangerously at the moment!

3:11am: 11 mins - France 0 Croatia 0

Chance for Croatia! Rakitic goes over the top for Perisic, but the winger can't control the ball as it goes out for a goal kick. All Croatia so far.

3:08am: 8 mins - France 0 Croatia 0

Just like in their semi-final win over Belgium, France don't seem to concerned over giving away early possession. Strinic wins a throw down the left flank, and plays a one-two with Rakitic. Strinic wins a corner as Pogba blocks his attempted cross.

Modric to take, Giroud clears with a header away for another Croatia throw.

3:03am: 3 mins - France 0 Croatia 0

Perisic steals the ball from Pavard and breaks down the left. Varane and Umtiti get back to cover but Croatia have a throw in. The ball is held up by Mandzukic, before Mbappe clears any trouble for France.

3:00am: KICKOFF - France 0 Croatia 0

We're away! Croatia kick off to get the World Cup final underway!

2:52am

Both sides now in the tunnel, they'll be out onto the pitch shortly as the trophy is delivered by Phillip Lahm, who captained Germany to the title in 2014.

2:45am

Here are the final starting XIs:

France (4-2-3-1): 1. Hugo Lloris (c, gk), 2. Benjamin Pavard, 4. Raphael Varane, 5. Samuel Umtiti, 21. Lucas Hernandez, 13. N'Golo Kanté, 6. Paul Pogba, 10. Kylian Mbappe, 7. Antoine Griezmann, 14. Blaise Matuidi, 9. Olivier Giroud.

Croatia (4-3-3): 23. Danijel Subasic (gk), 2. Sime Vrsaljko, 6. Dejan Lovren, 21. Domagoj Vida, 3. Ivan Strinic, 7. Ivan Rakitic, 11. Marcelo Brozovic, 18. Ante Rebic, 10. Luka Modric (c), 4 Ivan Perisic, 17. Mario Mandzukic.

2:30am

Here we are. From 32 teams, only France and Croatia remain, both looking to get their hands on the Jules Rimmet trophy.

For Les Bleus, they'll be looking for their first trophy since 1998, while Croatia can win football's ultimate prize for the first time in their history.

We'll have final teams for you shortly.


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World Cup final preview: Croatia's team of veterans going up against youthful favourites, France

France is the established power with a young team full of speed and skill. Croatia has the veterans that have shown they can never be counted out.

The two sides will meet on Monday morning in the World Cup final, with France going for its second title in its third final in 20 years. Croatia, a country that only gained independence in 1991, will be playing in its first.

"Tradition is there to be demolished," Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said Saturday. "I'm not interested who is the opponent."

Most consider France to be the favourite for the match at the Luzhniki Stadium, just like two years ago when the country's national team faced Portugal in the European Championship final at home.

But perhaps feeling complacent after beating Germany in the semi-finals, France flopped.

"I don't think it's going to happen again," said France captain Hugo Lloris, who has been stellar in goal during this year's tournament. "We are far from thinking on our side that we have already reached the goal."

Lloris was the goalkeeper in that 1-0 loss in Paris, facing a Portugal team that had reached the final after some extra-time victories.

Croatia has done the same this year, needing penalty kicks to beat Denmark and host Russia before defeating England in extra time in the semi-finals.

France coach Didier Deschamps has made some changes to his team, however. Fourteen, to be exact, from the 23 players who made up the squad two years ago.

Another factor in France's favour is rest. The French had only two days of rest between the Euro 2016 semi-finals and the final. This time, they have four full days to recover, one more than Croatia.

"A lot of things have changed," Lloris said. "Especially when it comes to recovery and preparation time."

Croatia has also played a lot more soccer in its six matches in Russia. With its last three matches going to extra time, the team has played a full 90 minutes more than France. There was also the added stress of two penalty shootouts.

That's all behind them.

"Now, there is no pressure," Dalic said through a translator. "Simply this is the greatest moment in the life of all of us. We have come here to enjoy the final."

FIRST WIN:

Croatia has not beaten France in five games since being accepted as a FIFA member federation in 1992.

The first match was the most momentous — a 2-1 win for France in the 1998 World Cup semi-finals at Stade de France outside Paris.

A group game at Euro 2004 ended in a 2-2 draw, and their latest game was a 0-0 draw in March 2011 in Paris.

UNBEATEN TEAMS:

Both teams were unbeaten in the group stage, and France has trailed for only nine minutes in the entire tournament.

Argentina's 2-1 lead in the second half of a round-of-16 game was wiped out by defender Benjamin Pavard's long-range shot. Kylian Mbappe then exploded for two quick goals in the 4-3 victory.

Croatia's 3-0 win over Argentina was a standout performance in the group stage. The team also never trailed in wins over Nigeria and Iceland.

It's been different in the knockout rounds. Croatia conceded the opening goal in each game before rallying to advance.

BACK TO LUZHNIKI:

Both teams have played one game at the Luzhniki Stadium so far.

Croatia beat England 2-1 at the venue on Wednesday, while France's 0-0 draw with Denmark in its final group game ended with Russian fans booing the tournament's only scoreless draw.

The past two World Cup finals were 0-0 after 90 minutes, and both were settled by a single goal in the second half of extra time.

BACK HOME:

"Win or lose," Dalic said, "there will be a seismic event in Croatia."

France's Paul Pogba (left) and Croatia captain Luka Modric. Source: Associated Press


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'They’re heroes no matter what the result' - Croatia's footballers uniting a young nation

"They're heroes not matter what the result today," is the sentiment echoing throughout the streets of Dubrovnik, Croatia ahead of tomorrow's World Cup showdown with France.

Croatia's national team has far exceeded the nation's expectations and as sport often does, it’s united the post war-torn country in a new way.

The Yugoslav wars are still a relatively recent memory for the nation of just 4 million people, not just in the minds of fans, but also players.

Take captain Luka Modric for example – a household name here, but his lifestyle as a football superstar is a far cry from his childhood. 

At age 6, his grandfather was executed and his home burnt by Serbian Militia. 

He lived as a refugee, playing football in various hotel corridors and bomb shelters as his town was shelled and when the shelling stopped he would head back outside and kick a ball around the rubble and landmine-filled streets. 

1 NEWS' Joy Reid with Croatia fans. Source: 1 NEWS

Many players grew up without electricity and water.

Our taxi driver tells me, it’s that past which has given this team a mental strength which surpasses other world teams and has seen them become the lowest ranked team to ever make a FIFA World Cup final.

It’s a bit of a David verses Goliath this match.  France which has 16 times the population, is ranked 7th in the world and is an EU powerhouse versus a country which is just 27 years old (it became independent in 1991), an EU member for only the past 5 years and ranked 20th

The French are the favourites - they’re unbeaten in their five previous games with Croatia, winning three times, but the Croatian locals don’t care about odds, they have utter faith in their team.  T

hey have literally put up their score predictions in shop windows (Croatia 1 – France 0) and one man in the market is selling trophy replicas with Croatia’s name on the winner’s spot.

"It’s already won," he tells me confidently. "It’s coming home".

Apparently it’s bad luck in Croatia to wear your team shirt before game day so the sea of red wasn’t as prominent yesterday as it is today – but there were certainly a lot of flags flying and football merchandise was flying off the shelves. 

Today the nation’s wearing them - the red checkers are everywhere, even the airline staff have swapped their EasyJet orange for red and white – some fans have even painted the pattern on their sweaty heads (it’s 29 degrees today).

You can feel how important this match is to the country.  Supermarkets, city tours, shops are all shutting down for the game, and if the team win, there’s a national holiday on Monday to allow as many people to head to the capital, Zagreb, to welcome home the team being called the "second coming of the golden generation of 1998".

In 1998 the Croatia made it to the semi-finals but they were beaten by France who went on to win the tournament.

This is the first time Croatia has ever appeared in a World Cup final. 

When the tournament kicked off four weeks ago, not many would have thought this small country – the smallest to reach a final since Uruguay in 1950 – would go so far but the locals here are full of faith.

"We will win," they tell me with not an ounce of doubt.

Even non-football fans are convinced.

"I usually don’t really follow football but I’m euphoric because we’re a small country, going through some rough things, the country is a bit divided but football is something right now that will bring us all together."

It is also putting the country on the world stage.

During the semi-final, a tour operator tells me that Croatia was googled 200,000 times, and its national tourism website was clicked on 250,000 times.

This is marketing you can’t buy.

One guide telling me she hopes "there won’t be a single person in the world who will use the word Yugoslavia again, everybody will know about Croatia."

For a country that relies on tourism – a group of footballers are not only lifting a country’s moral but also its economy.

A party atmosphere is building on the streets in Croatia ahead of the World Cup final against France that’s being touted as a battle of David versus Goliath. Source: 1 NEWS