Mbappé electrifies in World Cup epic, ends up on losing side





LUSAIL, Qatar (AP) — Kylian Mbappé scored a hat trick in the World Cup final, he was the tournament’s leading scorer in Qatar, and he still missed out on winning a second straight title.

The France superstar was on the losing side of an epic final against Argentina that was settled in a penalty shootout after a 3-3 draw on Sunday. He was then consoled on the field by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Mbappé had been the leader France desperately needed as time was running out with the defending champions trailing 2-0. The forward had been practically invisible up to that point.

But his two goals in less than two minutes carried France back into the match. Twice. Mbappé first converted a penalty in the 80th minute, and then he scored with a volley from just inside the area in the 81st.

It took only 97 seconds for him to get France even with Argentina and the great Lionel Messi.

Mbappé scored a second penalty late in extra time, in the 118th minute, about 10 minutes after Messi had given Argentina the lead again.

Mbappé’s hat trick was only the second in a World Cup final — the first was by England striker Geoff Hurst in 1966.

The Frenchman leaves Qatar with the Golden Boot trophy as the tournament’s top scorer with eight goals. At the age of 23, he’s quickly closing in on Pelé’s 12 career World Cup goals.

But Mbappé couldn’t quite match the Brazil great’s back-to-back World Cup titles — both players were teenagers when they won their first one, Pelé in 1958 and Mbappé in 2018.

Mbappé tried to set the tone in the penalty shootout, taking responsibility for the first kick. He converted the penalty but France ended up losing 4-2. Messi did the same for Argentina to start the shootout, but his teammates all scored their penalties.

After the shootout, Mbappé made sure he was the first to console Kingsley Coman and Aurélien Tchouaméni after their slow walks back from the spot following their failures to score.

Mbappé stood bent over in the center circle, hands on his knees, as Argentina defender Gonzalo Montiel prepared to take the decisive kick. He then squatted, saw the net ripple and walked away alone amid the Argentina celebrations.

France coach Didier Deschamps came over to console him. But Mbappé went to the team dugout and sat slumped in a chair with his dark blue shirt pulled over his face to hide his emotions.

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