The final match of the FIFA Men’s World Cup 2022 took place on Sunday, December 18, at a fully-packed Lusail Stadium in Qatar. It came down to defending champions France versus Argentina. In what can only be described as an instant classic, this match thrilled and captivated the entire world.
The match ended at 3-3 at the end of 120 minutes, after even two extra-time goals from superstars Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé couldn’t separate the two sides. The match was finally decided by a nerve-wrenching penalty shootout, in which Argentina emerged victorious. Lionel Messi finally got to claim the one trophy that had eluded him throughout his illustrious career. Messi was also awarded the Golden Ball Award, naming him the overall top performer of the tournament.
Argentina’s coach, Lionel Scaloni, was visually emotional and struggling to hold back tears after the monumental game. His wish for his fellow Argentinians was: “I want to tell people to enjoy. It’s a historic moment for our country.”
But this was not the only memorable moment of the world’s most widely-watched sporting event. Here’s our take on the top moments of the FIFA World Cup 2022:
Though Argentina emerged as the victors, they received a rude shock in their first group-stage match. In one of the most jaw-dropping upsets in World Cup history, Saudi Arabia defeated the future victors 2-1.
Another surprise happened before a game when Portugal coach Fernando Santos didn’t put superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in the starting lineup for his team’s last two matches. Ronaldo, a longtime fan favorite, didn’t seem to possess his usual dominance at this World Cup.
The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) returned to the tournament for the first time since 2014. This group of players was deemed the “greatest in a generation” as it comprised several star players, including Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic. The team did well as it went on to the knockout stages from a tough group, but their hopes were dashed with a defeat at the hands of the mighty Dutch in the round of 16.
In the history of the men’s tournament, there have been 88 semi-finalists, with 85 faring from Europe and South America. The 2022 World Cup saw the first African team to reach the semifinals. Morocco electrified fans by defeating Spain and Portugal, two dominant European teams, and making it all the way to the final four. Morocco’s supporters donned all sorts of red and green items while singing, chanting, whistling, and cheering for their heroes.
In another first, women referees officiated on and off the field at the Qatar World Cup. Kathryn Nesbitt of the United States was one of these six women, and an all-female group of referees oversaw the Germany vs. Costa Rica game. Finally, this was the last World Cup for several legendary soccer players, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Croatia’s Luka Modric, and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez. These players have captivated fans for decades, and the world got to witness them on the big stage for their last dance. As for the love of the game, that is something these stars probably won’t retire.
Cover Image: FIFA