On Sunday, in what has been widely described as the greatest World Cup final of all time, Argentina defeated France to win soccer's greatest prize for the third time in the country's history.
In Qatar's Lusail Stadium, Argentina's Lionel Messi gave his team the lead after a 23rd-minute penalty and was shortly followed by Ángel Di María who slotted in a 36th-minute goal — giving the Argentines a 2-0 advantage going into halftime.
France, the defending champions, looked out of the game until their respective superstar — Kylian Mbappé — also scored from the penalty spot in the 80th minute and hit the back of the net again less than two minutes later, forcing extra time with the score tied at 2-2.
Messi, widely regarded as the world's greatest player, again put his team ahead but was again rebuffed by Mbappé — making him only the second player in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final after England's Geoff Hurst in 1966.
As the game headed to a penalty shootout, both Messi and Mbappé scored their team's first attempts. But after Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni both missed for France, Argentina's Gonzalo Montiel sealed the victory for his team with a 4-2 lead in penalties.
Before Argentina raised the iconic 18-carat World Cup trophy, their goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez was awarded the Golden Gloves award while their midfielder Enzo Fernández won the Young Player Award. Messi walked away with the Golden Ball for the best player while Mbappé secured the Golden Boot for most goals scored.
Narrative A, as provided by The New York Times. In spite of the criticism and scandal, Qatar got what it wanted: an exhilarating World Cup watched by millions. The icing on the cake was watching superstar Messi finally lift the World Cup trophy — a dream he has no doubt sought since first kicking a soccer ball.
Narrative B, as provided by Express. This was nearly a perfect tournament — but that's exactly the problem. Once the games started, all concerns about corruption, migrant deaths, and the persecution of the LGBTQ community were quickly forgotten. Unfortunately, it demonstrates that "sportswashing" works.