Dismayed French soccer fans stared blankly at television screens in bars and lounges around the nation after Argentina snatched a penalty shootout victory in Sunday’s World Cup final.
In the packed Belushi sports bar in Paris, some stood still, shaking their heads in disbelief at a match that was all Argentina for the first 80 minutes before a Kylian Mbappe-led comeback left the French thinking they might steal an unlikely win.
“It’s so disappointing. We came back and believed we could do it,” said supporter Romain Cyne as a small group of Argentines nearby celebrated their victory on penalties after a 3-3 draw during normal and extra time.
The French had seen little reason to cheer, their team struggling to get a shot on goal, at 2-0 down, before Mbappe in the 80th minute stroked home a penalty and then moments later found the back of the net again, hitting a dropping ball first time, to draw 2-2 in normal time.
Shouts of “Allez les Bleus” (Go on the Blues) rang out in the Belushi and beer was hurled into the air after the 23-year-old Mbappe had forced the game into extra time.
The game again looked to be Argentina’s after Lionel Messi bundled the ball over the line in the 108th minute before another Mbappe penalty in the 118th minute granted the French another reprieve and sent the finale to spot kicks.
This time, Argentina made no mistakes.
“We woke up too late. We showed a real strength of character but when you get to penalties it’s 50-50,” said disappointed French fan Jordan Tambutte.
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.