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.
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.
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.
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:
The referee has gone to Var to take a look at the Ivan Perisic handball. But was it accidental?
PENALTY – the ref has awarded the penalty
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) July 15, 2018
Fucking stupid. The rules say it has to be intentional. It wasn’t. And there was no France player behind him so didn’t get Croatia any advantage. Hate that.
— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) July 15, 2018
I don’t think he’s deliberately handled the ball but I think he’s deliberately used his arms to make himself bigger with a chance of preventing the ball getting past him & ended up handling it as a result. Penalty for me.
— RickyGee (@GeezyPeas) July 15, 2018
Roy Keane on ITV: “that penalty decision disgusts me. It’s a disgraceful decision”#WorldCupFinal2018
— Ed Chamberlin (@chamberlinsport) July 15, 2018
Perisic’s arm came up well away from his body. Stonewall penalty.
— Chris 🏴 (@LondonGoona) July 15, 2018
Andy Townsend winning some respect back in my books. Calls it a joke of a penalty. Is right.#WorldCupFinal
— Heinrich (@Heinrich_90) July 15, 2018
Going to disagree with a lot of people here.
That was a penalty. He moved his hand towards the ball. We might not like it, it might be cheap, but that is nearly always going to be a penalty.
Also, France have not “been dreadful.” France are doing what France do.
— Jonathan Northcroft (@JNorthcroft) July 15, 2018
Never ever a penalty. Very harsh on Croatia
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) July 15, 2018
Definitely a penalty. Hand speeds up as the ball gets closer with intention to stop it. Good decision. #VAR 🇫🇷🇭🇷
— Sam (@samuelJayC) July 15, 2018
VAR, which we are told is infallible on offside, does nothing on France’s opener. Then the referee gives the most controversial penalty in World Cup Final history after taking a last look at slow-motion footage – against VAR protocol. #FRA #CRO #WorldCup https://t.co/0l3rK9OvRq pic.twitter.com/5yWy0LAxOJ
— Duncan Castles (@DuncanCastles) July 15, 2018
I’m supporting Croatia buh that was a clear penalty.
If it was for Nigeria, y’all would have shouted penalty
— Abike (@Bimzee_) July 15, 2018
Croatia has played with heart & energy.
France’s first goal originated with a foul that was actually a dive. Their second goal shouldn’t have been a penalty kick, especially in a World Cup final.
Croatia can pull this out. #WorldCupFinal
— Arjun Sethi (@arjunsethi81) July 15, 2018