'It's an historic moment' - Argentina coach Scaloni proud of thrilling World Cup triumph

Tearful manager pays tribute to his players after shoot-out win against France

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Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni paid tribute to his “unbelievable” players after their incredible World Cup final victory against France, at the same time telling his country to enjoy the moment of a third global success.

Argentina seemed set for a first World Cup win in 36 years at Lusail Stadium on Sunday, when they charged to a 2-0 lead against the reigning champions. Lionel Messi, their captain, scored from the spot and Angel Di Maria added a second to give the South Americans a 2-0 lead at half-time.

However, France rebounded late on with two quick-fire goals – 97 seconds separated them – from Kylian Mbappe to force extra-time.

Messi then scored again before Mbappe struck a second penalty for his side to push the contest to the shoot-out. There, Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved from Kingsley Coman, Aurelien Tchouameni sent his spot-kick wide, leaving Argentina defender Gonzalo Montiel to seal the most memorable of wins.

Speaking immediately afterwards to TV, a tearful Scaloni said: "I cannot believe that we have suffered so much in a perfect game. Unbelievable, but this team responds to everything.

"I am proud of the work they did. It is an exciting group. With the blows we received today and we keep taking, with the draws, this makes you emotional. I want to tell people to enjoy - it's a historic moment for our country."

Argentina's coach Lionel Scaloni gets emotional during a press conference at the end of World Cup final win against France. AP

Scaloni, who last year guided Argentina to Copa America glory to end the country’s 28-year wait for a major trophy, added: "This is what happened today: [France] reacted and that's huge credit to them. Above all, it is an incredible enjoyment to be at the top, as we are. It's something unique."

In capturing a third World Cup, Scaloni's side add to the previous victories for the country in 1978 and 1986. The national team have also lost three finals, most recently in 2014.

Messi, whose six goals in Qatar were second only to Kylian Mbappe (eight), was named the player of the tournament, while Martinez was awarded the prize for best goalkeeper.

"It was a game where we suffered," Martinez said. "Two crappy shots and [France] levelled. They give them another penalty, they scored. Thank God later I did my thing, what I dreamed of.

"There could not have been a World Cup that I have dreamed of like this. I was calm during the penalties.”

Argentina midfielder Rodrigo De Paul added: "I'll never forget it. We had to suffer, but we deserved to win. We've beaten the last champions - it's a joy I cannot put into words.

"I'm proud of being born in Argentina and today we are on top of the world."

Updated: December 18, 2022, 9:13 PM