World Cup: Hundreds of thousands of fans pour onto streets of Buenos Aires after Argentina beat France | World News
Argentina’s triumph in the World Cup final has sent hundreds of thousands of ecstatic fans pouring out onto the streets of Buenos Aires.
The rollercoaster game saw Lionel Messi’s team give up leads of 2-0 and 3-2 before ultimately prevailing over France in a nail-biting penalty shootout.
Messi finally won the biggest prize in football – the only trophy to have eluded him – and it was he that fans back home called out for their victory.
“I can’t believe it! It was difficult, but we did it, thanks to Messi,” said Santiago, 13, as he celebrated with his family outside the former home of Argentine football legend Diego Maradona.
Bearing flags, hats and the country’s iconic blue-and-white jerseys, fans took over Buenos Aires’ downtown and other iconic spots within minutes of the win.
“It is an immense joy after so much tension,” said lawyer Nicolas Piry, 46.
“The harmony between the team, headed by a leader who plays at a level making him the best in the world, and the players’ condition in general led us to this well-deserved success. Let’s go Argentina!” he added.
“It was an incredible game, at times anguishing,” said 46-year-old Diego Aburgeily, who cheered on the national side from the capital’s suburbs.
“This team made people fall in love with them for the first time in decades.”
There were similar scenes of jubilation among Argentina fans who had travelled to Qatar for the tournament.
“Probably for the people of my generation one of the biggest things we have ever lived (through),” one supporter told Sky News.
“I thought I died for a moment, my heart stopped for a minute. It was a battle until the last minute.”
There were more sombre scenes in the French capital, where dreams of two World Cup titles in a row for Les Bleus were dashed in heart-breaking fashion.
In the packed Belushi sports bar in Paris, some stood still, shaking their heads in disbelief in the match’s aftermath as Kylian Mbappe’s historic hat-trick brought France just short of glory.
“To lose on penalties is horrible,” said high school student Ousman Diaw, who used his French flag to shield him from the rain as he headed home.
“Messi deserves it though. He’s a good player and he had done everything except this.”
“It’s so disappointing. We came back and believed we could do it,” said supporter Romain Cyne.
Riot police were seen moving towards fans along the Champs Elysee in Paris and in Nice, small fires were seen in one street as a group of people congregated with one holding a flare, as local media reported clashes.
In Boulogne, scenes of violence were reported with police using tear gas.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who watched the match from the stands, later consoled Mbappe on the pitch.
“‘Les Bleus’ let us dream,” the President tweeted.
Footballing legend Pele, who has received well-wishes from players during the tournament concerned for his health, said the match was “enthralling”.
He said on Instagram: “What a gift it was to watch this spectacle to the future of our sport.
“And I couldn’t fail to congratulate Morocco for the incredible campaign. It’s great to see Africa shine.
“Congratulations Argentina! Certainly Diego is smiling now.”
Messi’s club teammate Neymar posted his congratulations on Instagram, as social media was awash with people crowning the Argentine the greatest player of all time.
Meanwhile, tweets came in praising Messi from the likes of Andy Murray, Declan Rice and presenter Gary Lineker, who tweeted: “It’s been an absolute privilege to watch Lionel Messi for nearly two decades.
“Moment after moment of spellbinding, breathtakingly joyous football.
“He’s a gift from the footballing Gods.”
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