MOSCOW – Taking turns sliding across the rain-soaked turf holding the World Cup trophy tight, teenager Kylian Mbappe and the rest of France's players acted like the youthful bunch they are.
Nothing, not a Pussy Riot protest nor a postgame downpour that soaked Russian President Vladimir Putin, was going to stop the party.
It carried on long after a thrilling 4-2 win over Croatia on Sunday. In the locker room with French President Emmanuel Macron striking poses with players, then a champagne-spraying, water-splashing interruption of coach Didier Deschamps' news conference.
"Sorry! They're young and they're happy," said Deschamps, like a proud father.
Deschamps had good reason to indulge them. His team is mostly aged 25 or under and can return almost intact to defend its title in 2022 in Qatar.
The 19-year-old Mbappe became only the second teen, after Pele in 1958, to score in a World Cup final.
Gold confetti stuck to the soaked Les Bleus as they paraded the trophy around the Luzhniki Stadium, a final act of a tournament in which Croatia reached its first final while powers Brazil, Germany and Argentina went home early.
About 12 minutes after a protester gave Mbappe a double high-five on the field, Mbappe sent a right-footed shot from 25 yards past goalkeeper Danijel Subasic. The goal put France up 4-1, closing the door on Croatia, which had been the better team until Mbappe took control.
Mbappe was born months after France won its only other World Cup title in 1998.
"I have a whole story to write," Mbappe said. "This is just the beginning."
Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, France's two other key creative players, also scored. Pogba played a disciplined role in Russia, but his natural joy was evident celebrating his 18-yard shot, and leading the champagne shower for Deschamps.
But it was Mbappe who put the match out of reach in the second half. In the 59th minute, a run from Mbappe started a play that ended with Pogba on the edge of the penalty area. With his second attempt, the midfielder curled his shot beyond Subasic.
Griezmann scored from the penalty spot in the 38th minute four minutes after his corner kick was knocked out of play by Ivan Perisic's arm. The referee ruled it hand ball only after a video review, just as the first thunder claps boomed around the stadium.
France took the lead in the 18th when 6-3 Croatian forward Mario Mandzukic rose to meet Griezmann's free kick with the top of his head. He deflected it past his own goalkeeper.
Perisic and Mandzukic both scored for Croatia, first to equalize in the 28th minute and later as a consolation goal in the 69th, embarrassing Lloris with a flicked shot as the France goalkeeper tried to dribble the ball out of his goalmouth.
But the three-goal lead was too much for the red-and-white-checkered squad that made a habit of coming back at the World Cup, one that had played three straight 120-minute games before the final.
"We were dominant, we had control," Dalic said through a translator. "What we've had in terms of luck over the tournament, we lacked that today."