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Deschamps soaks up victory to join elite World Cup club

Deschamps soaks up victory to join elite World Cup club


dpa
Moscow
Didier Deschamps stood on the pitch, his arms raised in the air before giving a fist salute to fans.
Later, after being thrown into the air by his players and celebrating on the pitch at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium after France's 4-2 defeat of Croatia, he consoled several opposition players.
The former defensive midfielder was the only France captain to lift the World Cup, when Les Bleus triumphed in the Stade de France in 1998, before the meeting with Croatia.
Now the 49-year-old joins Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer in an elite group to win the World Cup as both a player and a coach.
Deschamps was once disparagingly called a water carrier - the player who provides the ball for more talented players to perform - by former team-mate Eric Cantona.
He took it as a compliment, and an illustrious playing career with 103 caps and a club career including Juventus, Marseille and Chelsea before a successful transition to coaching has proved his point.
At the victory ceremony, Deschamps also shipped plenty of water. His suit was saturated after the heavens opened and he was given a long and particularly touching embrace by an equally drenched French President Emmanuel Macron.
"How marvellous! It's a young team, who are on the top of the world. Some are champions at the age of 19," were his first words into the cameras.
"The win is not about me, it's the players who won the game," he added.
"For 55 days, we have done a lot of work. It is the supreme coronation. We are proud to be French, to be Blues. The victory in the match belongs to them. Vive le Republic."
Deschamps saw his side defeat Croatia thanks to a Mario Mandzukic own goal and an Antoine Griezmann penalty in the first half followed by goals from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe.
It was far from a vintage performance by France who had only 39 percent ball possession to Croatia's 61 percent in the first half.
That figure barely changed after the break, and by the end nearly all the statistics pointed to a Croatia win including 83-74 percent pass accuracy, 548 to 269 passes completed, 15-8 goal attemps (but 6-3 in favour of the French for shots on target), and 6-2 corners.
Especially in the first half, Deschamps side were being overrun in midfield, and 10 minutes after the break Deschamps took off N'Golo Kante, who was on a yellow card, and brought on Steven NZonzi.
That seemed to steady things and Pogba's brilliant pass to Mbappe initiated the third goal, finished by Pogba before Mbappe shot crisply to make it 4-1.
Captain Hugo Lloris's blunder to allow Mandzukic to score a second in the 69th minute for Croatia was not relevant in the end, and the Tottenham Hotspur keeper was able to join Deschamps as skippers to lift the World Cup for Les Bleus.
Deschamps, who has a record 83 games in charge, has now gone a long way to expunging the memory of the defeat as coach in the Euro 2016 final against Portugal.
"We did not play a huge game but we showed mental quality. And we scored four goals anyway. They deserved to win," he said.
"The group worked so hard and we had some tough moments along the way. It hurt so much to lose the Euro two years ago, but it made us learn too."

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