France’s Olivier Giroud holds up the trophy as he celebrates with teammates at the end of the final match between France and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, July 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

France won the World Cup for the second time after beating a spirited Croatia 4-2 in a spectacular final in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

In one of the most exciting World Cup finals of the modern era, France and Croatia delivered an absorbing spectacle that brought the joint highest goal tally in a final since 1958.

A Mario Mandzukic own goal gave Les Bleus an early lead, only for Ivan Perisic to equalise ten minutes later.

But seven minutes before half-time, Argentine referee Néstor Pitana remarkably awarded a spot-kick for handball against Perisic which was converted by Antoine Griezmann.

Second half strikes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe ultimately sealed the victory as they became the first team to score four goals in a World Cup final since Brazil beat Italy 4-1 in 1970.

Despite the scoreline, Croatia showed plenty of grit and determination and almost threatened a comeback, with a bizarre consolation when Mandzukic took advantage of a Hugo Lloris error.

However, the victory saw Didier Deschamps’ side repeat the success on home soil 20 years ago at France ’98, becoming just the third man to win the competition as a player and coach after Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer.

France took the lead after their first attack inside 18 minutes when Griezmann’s left-footed free-kick deflected in off Mandzukic’s head to become the first player to score an own goal in a World Cup final.

Croatia responded after falling behind for the third time in the knockout stages and deservedly equalised through Perisic, who volleyed home from the edge of the area beyond Lloris, courtesy of a deflection off Raphael Varane.

In the 38th minute, France restored their lead as a corner from the right was flicked on by Blaise Matuidi and the ball struck Perisic’s hand, although he seemed to know little about it.

To the disbelief of the Croatian team, a VAR review was underway and after watching numerous replays, Pitana overturned his original decision and awarded the penalty, which Griezmann calmly sent Danijel Subasic the wrong way.

In an enthralling second-half, Deschamps’ side upped their tempo and Pogba struck to make it 3-1, curling a left-footed shot into the far corner.

And just six minutes later, France added a fourth when Lucas Hernández squared the ball to 19-year-old Mbappe, who from 25 yards out hit a low strike past Subasic and became the second youngest player to score in a World Cup final, after Pele for Brazil in 1958.

Zlatko Dalic’s side were given some hope with 20 minutes to go as Lloris hesitated on his six-yard line in which Mandzukic pounced and guided the ball into the net.

But France held on to spark wild scenes of celebrations as captain Lloris lifted Les Bleus’ second World Cup.

Croatia return home as beaten World Cup finalists but their approach throughout the tournament has been sensational meanwhile France erase the memories of the 1-0 loss to Portugal two years ago in the Euro 2016 final in Paris.

Match Stat – This was the highest-scoring World Cup final since England beat Germany 4-2 back in 1966.

Man of the Match – Paul Pogba

France XI – Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernández, Pogba, Mbappe, Kanté, Matuidi, Griezmann,                           Giroud

Subs – N’Zonzi, Tolisso, Fekir

Croatia XI – Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Brozovic, Rebic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic,                                       Mandzukic

Subs – Kramaric, Pjaca

Referee – Néstor Pitana