Penalty or not? Debate rages online as France retake lead vs Croatia

Viewers of the World Cup final have taken to social media in numbers this evening to debate whether or not the penalty call leading to France’s 2nd goal was correct.

Matchup

The two nations are currently locked in action in Luzhniki in the finale of this summer’s thrilling tournament.

France were the first to secure their place in the World Cup showpiece, after Didier Deschamps’ men put Belgium to the sword by a goal to nil courtesy of a header from Samuel Umtiti on Tuesday night.

Croatia, meanwhile, got the better of England in their own final-4 outing, with Mario Mandzukic’s half volley in extra-time having proved the difference between the sides on Wednesday.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JULY 11: Mario Mandzukic of Croatia celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Semi Final match between England and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Favourites

As such, the stage was set for the biggest game in world football, with France having come into proceedings as heavy favourites.

Les Bleus saved their most impressive showing of the tournament so far for the semi-final versus Belgium, with Didier Deschamps’ men having looked equally blistering in attack and miserly in defence.

Controversy

And it didn’t take long for the favourites to take the lead this evening, as Antoine Griezmann’s devilish free-kick was flicked home by the unfortunate Mario Mandzukic after the former had blatantly dived to earn his side the set-piece opportunity.

Croatia deservedly pulled level in the 28th-minute, though, when a brilliantly worked free-kick eventually saw the ball drop to Ivan Perisic on the edge of the box, with the Inter Milan’s superb first-touch and subsequent strike having flown past the helpless Hugo Lloris into the bottom-right corner of the French goal.

But, despite Croatia having dominated the vast majority of the opening 45 minutes, France went ahead once more shortly before half-time, when a whipped free-kick from the right saw Ivan Perisic adjudged to have handled the ball, resulting in a penalty, which was subsequently dispatched by Antoine Griezmann.

Referee Nestor Pitana consulted with VAR before eventually making the decision, but, in truth, the call could hardly be labelled as clear-cut, with debate having since raged online between fans, as showcased below:

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