World Cup 2022: A hat-trick saw heartbreak – Kylian Mbappe misses out on the biggest prize

A hat-trick, then heartbreak – Kylian Mbappe’s night promised so much but ended in probably the worst way to win the World Cup’s Golden Boot.

The France The striker will leave Qatar as the tournament’s top scorer after becoming the first man to score three goals in a World Cup final since Geoff Hurst in 1966 – but his most important memory will be the pain of an agonizing defeat.

At the end of a truly epic night, the 23-year-old still had to step up to the podium to collect his individual accolade after reminding the world of his immense talent – but there were times when a far greater prize was within his grasp.

This could have been his final, and also known as his tournament, but instead both will be remembered as belonging to another number 10, who also lifted the World Cup trophy that Mbappe took home four years ago.

It was Argentina and Lionel Messi who eventually took the honours, but Mbappe lit up the Lusail Stadium and it felt for a while as if this was meant to be his time again.

“We just saw the French president – that boy is king”

Mbappe’s bid to become the youngest player to win a second World Cup since Pele, who was 21 when he did it in 1962, got off to a terrible start.

He was mostly a spectator as Argentina dominated the first half, managing just 11 touches in total as his struggling side fell two goals behind, and things didn’t initially improve much after the break.

It took until the 71st minute for Mbappe to get his first shot on target, but the ball sailed high over the crossbar and at that stage there seemed no way back for France.

Everything changed when Nicolas Otamendi fouled Randal Kolo Muani as he burst into the box, with Mbappe making no mistake from the spot.

Just 97 seconds later he made it 2-2, this time in spectacular style when he met a dropping ball in the box with a superb volley to bring the side back from the brink of defeat.

“You can’t question the quality of one of the greatest players in the world to get his country back in the game,” BBC co-commentator Jermaine Jenas said as the match went into extra time.

“He’s an absolute superstar. He just waited. His team wasn’t there with him, but the changes brought some energy, some belief to the side.”

More magic followed. Mbappe’s third of the night – his eighth of this tournament – came when he dispatched another penalty in added time, again to save his team and force a shootout in front of a crowd that could hardly believe what they were watching.

“We just saw the French president,” Jenas added after the camera cut to Emmanuel Macron. “That boy is a king. A hat-trick in a World Cup final and a penalty missed as cool as you want. He put it in exactly the same place as last time.”

Mbappe didn’t miss in the shootout either, coolly firing past Emiliano Martinez from the spot for the third time, but like Messi, it was the Argentina keeper who celebrated at the end after denying Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni’s miss.

Mbappe was still France’s hero in defeat and he was embraced by his teammates and also by Macron at the end, but this was not the finish he had dreamed of, despite being one few will forget.

“It was a pleasure to be here to see it,” said BBC pundit Alan Shearer. “Thanks to Messi and Mbappe. The way Argentina kept going, the mentality they had. Well done and thank you for entertaining us. It was just incredible.”

France go back to the drawing board

France’s World Cup defense ended up losing on penalties, but for most of the game it looked as if they would relinquish the trophy without so much as a whimper.

Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps had sought to change that before the break, replacing Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele with Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram, moving Mbappe into a more central striking role.

“It was tactical because I saw we lacked energy,” explained Deschamps. “I don’t blame Giroud or Dembele, I just saw they weren’t 100%. I brought Kylian from the wing – because I saw we were in big trouble.

“Basically we were just not in good shape. Physically we lacked that little bit extra, but we needed to go back to the drawing board and try to change something.

“I’ve always said that anything is possible, you can change in an instant and we did. We came back from the dead and made an amazing comeback – unfortunately it just wasn’t enough.

“It was the World Cup of records and Kylian has left his mark on the final, but unfortunately not in the way he would have liked.”

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