Pussy Riot pitch invasion proves their point about Putin
RUSSIA 2018 wrapped up in spectacular fashion as tournament favourite France rolled through Croatia on its way to a second World Cup crown.
An incredible performance from Croatia saw the tiny nation step over footballing heavyweights to reach its first Cup final, becoming the smallest country since Uruguay in 1950 to advance past the semi-finals.
Some are calling France's 4-2 win in the final the perfect finish to a chaotic five weeks of football which saw heroes made and legends humbled.
Here's how the world reacted to Monday morning's final in Russia.
FANS GO WILD FOR 'BEST WORLD CUP PHOTO'
A defiant pitch invasion from Russian activist group Pussy Riot briefly stalled the World Cup final in Moscow.
Four members of the punk rock band stormed their way onto the field dressed as police officers in protest of Russia's current political climate.
Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk rock group based in Moscow, have claimed responsibility for the pitch invasion during the second half of 2018 #WorldCup final between #FRA vs. #CRO pic.twitter.com/H9tWsTDxNB— Taslim Razin (@manarianz5) July 15, 2018
After being detained, the pitch invaders released a list of demands for Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was watching on in an official box at the ground.
The group explained their outfits were an interpretation of Russian poet Dmitriy Prigov's depiction of the "heavenly policeman". The stunt was to bring attention to Russia's "persecution of political prisoners".
Teen striker Kylian Mbappe, who booted the final goal in France's World Cup win, earned praise from onlookers after briefly interacting with one of the pitch invaders.
A high five shared between Mbappe and one of the women protesters was described as "the best image from the World Cup".
In contrast, Croatian star Dejan Lovren blasted the pitch invaders for interrupting a key moment in the underdog nation's fightback from 2-1 down in the final.
Lovren pushed one of the male protesters and helped the ground's security detain him.
"I really was mad because we'd been playing at that moment in good shape," Lovren said.
"We'd been playing good football and then some interruption came. I just lost my head and I grabbed the guy and I wished I could throw him away from the stadium."
TEEN WARRIOR OUTCLASSES THE WORLD
Watching France striker Kylian Mbappe has been a worldwide treat for fans looking ahead to the next generation of international superstars.
Iconic players Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were sensationally sent spiralling as Portugal and Argentina went down in the knockout stage earlier in the tournament. With two of the planet's biggest names sent home, the gap was open for explosive goalscorers to take centre stage and steal the spotlight. And the 19-year-old Mbappe didn't disappoint.
The speedy striker, who turns 20 in December 2018, became just the second teenager since Pele to score in a FIFA World Cup. He finished the tournament with four goals next to his name and the Best Young Player Award under his belt.
A silky smooth goal late in the piece punched the final nail into Croatia's World Cup dream, leaving pundits in awe of his level head and sublime ball skills.
"He is the guy who will be standing up on that Ballon d'Or podium in years to come. Easy," former Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand said during BBC's coverage.
"I hope my old club are chasing him. He has that connection with Paul Pogba too. There is already maturity beyond his years."
Former Germany star Jurgen Klinsmann said the fiery youngster looked as if he'd been playing international football for a decade.
"There is so much to come down the road," Klinsmann said.
"He is shaking up the market. With Ronaldo moving (to Juventus) and (Paris St-Germain's) Neymar being linked with other clubs, where is it finishing with this kid?"
VAR REARS ITS UGLY HEAD AGAIN
A controversial penalty left viewers outraged midway through the clash as France claimed a crucial opportunity.
It was do or die for the two sides with the chips down at 1-1. Croatia star Ivan Perisic handled the ball after a corner by France's Antoine Greizmann after he had earlier scored a stunning goal to level the scores.
Referee Nestor Pitana awarded France the penalty after viewing replay footage of the moment.
Greizmann easily sent the ball to the net to bring the score to 2-1 on France's way to victory. Fans blew up claiming the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee meant the handball rule needed to be changed.
"I think I've said this 100 times to increasingly bored friends during this World Cup, but watching football in slow-motion distorts everything," Football journalist Daniel Storey tweeted.
"VAR has altered the rules on handballs without the wording being changed."