Photo of Messi’s World Cup final goal proves it shouldn’t have stood

Huge crowds welcome Argentina team after World Cup victory

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A fresh image circulating online proves Polish referee Szymon Marciniak should have disallowed Lionel Messi’s second goal in Sunday’s World Cup final between Argentina and France. Argentina’s victory has descended into controversy after French media picked up on a rule infringement in the aftermath.

L’Equipe first sparked questions over the legitimacy of Messi’s second of the game to send Argentina 3-2 ahead in extra-time before Kylian Mbappe equalised from the penalty spot. The 35-year-old captain poked home after Hugo Lloris had saved Lautaro Martinez’s effort, sending the Lusail Stadium into a blue-and-white frenzy.

The outlet wrote: “Except that the goal is invalid if we strictly apply the rules. When Messi volleys Hugo Lloris’ save, some emotionally-charged Argentine substitutes are already on the pitch, ready to celebrate. Which is strictly prohibited.”

That was concerning two eager Argentina substitutes, who cameras have captured were over the touchline before Messi’s rebound crossed the goal-line. But new images shared by AS show that, in fact, three subs wearing orange bibs breached the field of play.

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Official FIFA rules state: “If, after a goal is scored, the referee realises, before play restarts, that there was an extra person on the field of play when the goal was scored the referee must disallow the goal.” In line with those, Marciniak may have been right to keep the score at 2-2 and give Les Bleus a free-kick, leaving the nation aggrieved over the result.

Kylian Mbappe netted a memorable hat-trick, becoming the player with the most World Cup final goals in history, aged 23, in the process. But it wasn’t enough, as Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni missed in the shoot-out, denying France from becoming the first country to retain the World Cup since Brazil in 1962.

Despite the controversy trickling from the Qatar final, Marciniak has received mass praise for his performance. But L’Equipe unsurprisingly wrote a scathing review of his display: “The Pole Szymon Marciniak, experienced Champions’ League referee, did not rise to the occasion, even less so to his job.

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“The penalty awarded on Angel Di Maria was very soft, not too different to the one refused on Marcus Thuram. How did Cristian Romero, responsible for so many brutal fouls, finish the match without a yellow card?

“How did Mr Marciniak not book the Argentinians when they chopped down counter-attacks through any means necessary, shirt pulls, cynical fouls and bangs? How was Emiliano Martinez able to grab the ball during the penalty shoot-out and throw it far away from [Aurelien] Tchouameni without the official intervening?”

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