France president Emmanuel Macron took to the pitch to console France players on Sunday, after they lost the World Cup final to Argentina on penalties.
Arguably the greatest final in World Cup history played out at Lusail Stadium in Qatar, with France twice coming from behind – firstly to force extra time and then to bring about a penalty shootout.
Lionel Messi opened the scoring in the first half with a spot-kick, before Angel Di Maria doubled Argentina’s lead before the break. However, Kylian Mbappe scored his own penalty in the 80th minute and struck again within 97 seconds to make it 2-2 and take the game to extra time.
Messi restored Argentina’s lead in the second half of extra time, but Mbappe completed a hat-trick with another penalty moments later. The Paris Saint-Germain teammates both scored in the shootout, but it was Argentina who won it 4-2.
The result saw Argentina claim their third world title while costing two-time champions France, who were looking to become the first back-to-back winners since Brazil in 1958 and 1962.
Macron, who was watching the game live at Lusail Stadium and reacting passionately throughout, made his way onto the pitch after the shootout to console French players.
The president was notably seen speaking to and embracing Mbappe, while Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez did so at the same time.
Macron, 44, then handed out runners-up medals to the France team.
Speaking after the game, he praised Mbappe’s impact and said he felt Les Bleus were within touching distance of the trophy.
“We were very far off at the end of the first half. There have already been comebacks like that, but it’s very rare in the history of football,” he said. “We came back amazingly. What Mbappé and the whole team did is extraordinary. We found our hunger again. I really believed we would do it. We had a miraculous second half, coming back from nowhere. And we had the match point.”
“Mbappé is a great player but he’s young, I told him he’s only 24. He was the World Cup top scorer. He’s won a World Cup, he’s been to a final. I was as sad as him. I told him he’d made us very proud, and in the end we’ve lost a football match, we came so close. That’s how it is in sport.”
At Russia 2018, France became world champions by beating Croatia 4-2 in the final to lift the trophy for the first time since 1998.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies