The stage was set, and the moment was here.
Lionel Messi and Argentina against Les Bleus of France in what has been assumed by many to be Messi’s last dance.
After the loss in the 2014 final to Germany, there was the belief that the Argentines were going to win this one.
As of 38 minutes, the game seemed done and dusted and surely not the firecracker final that was expected.
Messi had scored the first goal from the spot after Angel Di Maria was fouled.
Di Maria went on to score the second, a beautiful counterattack move from the Albiceleste.
Finished it seemed, but the match was just getting started.
France manager, Didier Deschamps made two changes just before half-time, removing all-time top scorer, Olivier Giroud and Ousmane Dembele for Marcus Thuram and Randal Kolo Muani.
The start to the second half didn’t see France pose any threat but all of that changed in the 79th minute when Kolo Muani was fouled by Nicolas Otamendi.
Kylian Mbappe stepped up and dispatched his penalty despite the best efforts of Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.
Ninety-seven seconds later, it was 2-2.
Kylian Mbappe again, an emphatic finish this time.
The magic of the World Cup? You bet.
The Argentine fans had gone quiet, the French and anti-Messi fans were now in full voice.
Nothing separated both sides in regular time so extra time beckoned.
After a goalless first half of extra-time, the game took yet another twist.
Messi scored his second of the game in the 108th minute after Hugo Lloris had saved Lautaro Martinez’s first strike.
Surely no way back for the French team, right? Wrong.
France were awarded a second penalty after Gonzalo Montiel handled the ball in the 118th minute.
Mbappe stepped up once again and scored.
A hat trick in the World Cup final for Mbappe who became only the second player to do so after England’s Geoff Hurst in 1966.
France could have nipped it in the final minutes of added time through Kolo Muani but Martinez made himself big enough to deny the attacker.
Down to penalties.
Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi both scored their penalties after which it became the Emiliano Martinez show as he saved two from Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni.
Dybala and Paredes scored for Argentina while Kolo Muani scored his.
Then came the deciding penalty.
Gonzalo Montiel, who gave away the penalty in extra-time had the chance to redeem himself.
Another twist perhaps?
Montiel wasn’t having it, as he calmly dispatched the penalty beyond Hugo Lloris.
That was it. It was over.
Argentina win their third World Cup and Messi finally lifts football's most coveted trophy.
France put in a good fight but fell short in their title defence.