Lionel Messi Dec 18, 2022; Lusail, Qatar; Argentina forward Lionel Messi (10) celebrates after scoring a goal against France during extra time of the 2022 World Cup final at Lusail Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t a Hollywood ending for Lionel Messi’s international career, mainly because Hollywood isn’t skilled enough to write a story as compelling as this.

In one of the greatest matches in soccer history, Argentina survived a two-goal comeback and a Kylian Mbappé hat trick to win their third World Cup in a penalty shootout. For Messi, he wins the one trophy that eluded him throughout his nearly 20-year career. In what is likely his last match for his country.

Argentina was in control for at least the first 80 minutes, and for a while, we thought this would be an easy Argentina win. Messi had a penalty goal, and Ángel Di María added a second and were in cruise control. Then a Mbappé brace, with both goals separated by nearly 90 seconds, evened the match at two, and it was suddenly a different game.

Extra time ratcheted up the tension. Messi added a second that was inches onside that put Argentina back up 3-2, but France didn’t give up, and a third penalty of the match gave Mbappé a chance at becoming the third person, and the second male, to score a hat trick in a World Cup final. Mbappé’s 118th-minute penalty joins him with England’s Sir Geoff Hurst (1966) and USA’s Carli Lloyd (2015) as the three to score hat tricks in a final. However, Mbappé is the first to have a hat trick and lose.

Argentina got back in control of the penalty shootout thanks to the goalkeeping prowess of Emiliano Martínez. Martínez stopped Kingsley Coman’s penalty; Aurélien Tchouaméni missed the penalty after that. Argentina was perfect in their four attempts, and when Gonzalo Montiel converted his attempt and clinched the World Cup for Argentina, the place exploded in cheers for Argentina and Messi.

The sports world was amazed by Argentina’s win.

I have watched soccer since 1994 and have written about soccer since 2012, and I have never seen anything like this World Cup final. This is the perfect advertisement to show to an American audience why we love soccer. When it’s great, there’s nothing like it in all of sports.

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @phillipbupp