On this day 15 July 2018(Exactly a year ago) France won the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament after defeating Croatia 4-2 in a thoroughly entertaining Final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow in what was a fitting end to an outstanding tournament.
Despite Croatia having the majority of possession in the opening stages, France took the lead in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. Antoine Griezmann’s lofted free kick from the French right was nodded into his own net by Mario Mandzukic.
Ivan Perisic levelled with a calm effort from the edge of the penalty area, but he would turn from hero to villain. A cross from the French right-hand side was handled by the Croatia No4, with a penalty awarded after a VAR review.
After the interval, France increased their lead through Paul Pogba, whose performances in the tournament deserved a goal in its finale. After Kylian Mbappe stretched the Croatian defence, Griezmann teed up Pogba, who finished after seeing his initial effort blocked.
After his tireless running tired the Croatian defence, it was only fitting that Mbappe himself got on the scoresheet, hitting a sweetly-struck effort from the edge of the penalty area with which Danijel Subasic stood no chance.
Mandzukic then scored in the same net, but this time to Croatia’s advantage, capitalising on some carelessness by Hugo Lloris to reduce the deficit.
In the end, the big No17’s strike was not enough to spark yet another miraculous Croatian comeback, and Les Bleus emulate their heroes of 1998 – including coach Didier Deschamps – in securing their second World Cup title.
Budweiser Man of the Match
Antoine Griezmann showed immense calm under pressure to bury his first-half penalty, while also setting up France’s opening goal as the No7 proved to be a constant threat to Croatia’s backline.
*60 years since someone as young as then 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe scored in a World Cup Final: the then 17-year-old Pele for Brazil against Sweden in 1958. This was also the highest scoring final in regular time since Sweden 1958’s finale.
*Deschamps is the third person to win the World Cup as both a player and a manager, after Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer.
*France became the first team to score four goals in a World Cup final since Brazil beat Italy 4-1 in 1970.
*Croatia are the first team to lose in their first appearance in a World Cup final since the Netherlands in 1974 (2-1 v Germany).
*Mandzukic is the first player to score an own goal in a World Cup final.
*Griezmann has scored 10 goals for France in major tournaments – only three players have scored more for Les Bleus (Michel Platini – 14, Just Fontaine – 13, Thierry Henry – 12).
*Perisic has been directly involved in 11 goals at major tournaments (7 goals, 4 assists), more than any other Croatia player.
*Perisic became only the second player to both score a goal, and concede a penalty in a World Cup final, after Marco Materazzi for Italy in 2006.
*Pogba became the first Manchester United player to score in a World Cup final, and the first Premier League player to do so since Emmanuel Petit in 1998.
*Pogba’s goal for France was the first scored from outside the box in a World Cup final since Marco Tardelli for Italy v Germany in 1982.
*Mandzukic is only the second player in World Cup history to score a goal and an own goal in the same match, after the Netherlands’ Ernie Brandts against Italy in 1978.
*Mandzukic became the fifth player to score in both World Cup and European Cup/Champions League finals after Ferenc Puskas, Zoltan Czibor, Gerd Muller and Zinedine Zidane.
On this day 15 July 2018 (Exactly a year ago) Novak Djokovic earned his first Grand Slam title in more than two years by beating Kevin Anderson to win his fourth Wimbledon championship.
Djokovic, seeded 12th, won 6-2 6-2 7-6 (7-3) to claim a 13th Slam – his first major since the 2016 French Open
On this day 15 July 2017 (Exactly 2 years ago) Spain’s Garbine Muguruza won her first Wimbledon title with a straight-set win over five-time champion Venus Williams.
The then 23-year-old saved two set points and won the last nine games in a 7-5 6-0 victory under the Centre Court roof.
Muguruza denied then 37-year-old a first major title for nine years, which would have made her the oldest female Grand Slam champion in the Open era.
It was 14th seed Muguruza’s second Grand Slam title after her French Open triumph over Serena Williams in 2016.
“I had the hardest match today against Venus,” said Muguruza.
“She’s such an incredible player. I grew up watching her play – sorry,” she added, to the watching American.
“I feel incredible to be able to play her here. Of course I’m nervous because I always dreamed about winning it, but I was composed.”
Having lost to Serena Williams in the 2015 final, Muguruza became the second Spanish woman to win the Wimbledon singles title after her coach, Conchita Martinez.
She is also the first woman to beat both Williams sisters in Grand Slam finals.
On this day 15 July 2018 (Exactly a year ago) Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao KO WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse in round 7 in Kuala Lumpur for his first knockout in 9 years and 60th career victory.
BY: GEORGE ‘Alan Green’ MAHAMAH
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