Lionel Messi enjoyed what will undoubtedly go down as the greatest moment of his glittering career as the Argentina star helped his country beat France on penalties despite a hat-trick from Kylian Mbappe that saw the 2022 World Cup final in Qatar end as a 3-3 thriller.
La Albiceleste led 2-0 and then 3-2 in extra time, but were pegged back before Gonzalo Montiel secured a 4-2 success in the shoot-out after Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni failed from the spot for Les Bleus.
Messi, 35, had suggested this showdown for the trophy would be his World Cup swansong, and he fittingly rose to the occasion when he converted a clinical penalty on 23 minutes to open the scoring. It saw him become the first man ever to score in every round of a single World Cup.
France had been aiming to become the first team in 60 years to retain the trophy, but they were second best for long spells and it was no surprise when Argentina claimed a 2-0 advantage heading into the interval.
Angel Di Maria was recalled to the side for this final and repaid manager Lionel Scaloni’s decision with a vibrant display, earning the penalty for the opener before finishing off a flowing team move on 36 minutes.
The match had been billed as a potential passing of the torch between Messi and his Paris-Saint Germain team-mate Kylian Mbappe, but the Frenchman was peripheral for much of the contest until a blur of brilliance turned the game on its head inside 90 seconds.
Mbappe converted an 80th-minute penalty before exchanging a lovely one-two and volleying home a dramatic equaliser just seconds later.
Messi then turned the game again in extra time when he tucked in a rebound before Mbappe kept his nerve from the spot three minutes from the end to set up a penalty shoot-out by becoming only the second man in history to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.
It would ultimately end in despair for the French, though, as Argentina held their nerve from the spot to win their third World title and become the second side to triumph after losing their opening game.