QATAR (AP/WAVY) – In a scintillating World Cup final, Argentina’s Lionel Messi and France’s Kylian Mbappé did their thing for more than 120 minutes – Messi scoring twice, and Mbappé picking up a hat trick.

But after playing to a 3-3 tie, France missed a pair of penalties in the shootout, and Argentina made all of theirs to win the 2022 World Cup.

And now Lionel Messi’s once-in-a-generation career is complete. The Argentina superstar is finally a World Cup champion.

Messi also made his penalty in the shootout, as did Mbappé, who had the first hat trick in a final in 56 years.

Now, though, there’s no debate. Messi is definitively in the pantheon of soccer’s greatest ever players, alongside Pelé — a record three-time World Cup champion from Brazil — and Diego Maradona, the late Argentina great with whom Messi was so often compared.

Messi has achieved what Maradona did in 1986, dominate a World Cup for Argentina.

Messi put Argentina ahead from the penalty spot and played a part in Angel Di Maria’s goal that made it 2-0 after 36 minutes.

Mbappé scored two goals in a 97-second span of the second half – in the 80th and 81st minutes – to take the game to extra time, and then Messi tapped in his second goal in the 109th minute. But there was still time for another penalty from Mbappé to take the thrilling game to a shootout.

Gonzalo Montiel scored the clinching penalty kick after Kingsley Coman had an attempt saved by Emi Martinez and Aurelien Tchouameni missed for France.

And while Mbappé may have the Golden Boot as the World Cup’s leading scorer, Messi has a title more precious that had eluded him – until now.

World Cup champion.

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