In the highest scoring FIFA World Cup final since 1966, the stars of world football hit the headlines. Paul Pogba proved his worth, Kylian Mbappe became only the second teenager in history to score in a World Cup final, and Hugo Lloris conceded a fairly hilarious goal.
One other man hit the headlines however. A lesser known man. A man with a weirdly impressive physique, and seeming lack of knowledge of the handball rule: Nestor Pitana.
It started off so well for Nestor Pitana on Twitter this afternoon. Social media users were impressed by his physique, with some even suggesting the referee should consider a career in the WWE:
Pre-match referee Twitter rating: 100%
Things started to take a turn for the worse in the 18th minute for Pitana.
The goal, however, proved to be a controversial one. Antoine Griezmann conned the well-built referee into gifting Les Bleus a free kick on the edge of the penalty area:
Griezman took a dive at the exact spot on the field where he wanted a free kick and the official obliged. This is why people don’t like soccer.— Reilly Moore (@reillymoore) July 15, 2018
Nothing like a dive resulting in a goal.— Jonathan Fish (@fishjonathan) July 15, 2018
That’s such a cheap goal for France. Guy took a DIVE and a half to get the free kick— Dan O'Brien (@BigBoyOB) July 15, 2018
To add salt to the wound, the goal was scored by Mario Mandzukic - yes, ANOTHER own goal at this World Cup - who flicked Griezmann's subsequent free kick into the top left corner of his own net.
It was an unfortunate moment for the Juventus forward, who after dragging his team over the line against England, went from hero to zero in an instant:
Post Mario Mandzukic own goal referee Twitter rating: 72%
VAR Penalty Incident:
After Croatia had clawed their way back into the tie via a brilliant Ivan Perisic strike, VAR was brought into the equation by Pitana; and the decision to do this proved to be the former actor's social media downfall.
Perisic - who had just drew his nation level - seemingly unintentionally handled the ball in the penalty area following a Samuel Umtiti header, but after VAR deliberation, Nestor Pitana deemed the Inter forward's handball to have been deliberate...much to the dismay of Twitter:
Ridiculous decision— Mina Rzouki (@Minarzouki) July 15, 2018
Croatia are the better side. The referee and VAR officials are having a stinker. Croatia are comeback specialists in this world cup, it’s game on!— City Chief ️ (@City_Chief) July 15, 2018
On ITV— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) July 15, 2018
Mark Clattenburg: "Hands are in a natural position. No movement towards ball. No penalty."
Roy Keane: "I'm disgusted with the decision. Absolutely fuming."
Gary Neville: "The referee must never have played the game."
Lee Dixon: "Never a penalty in a million years."
Griezmann dived for the free-kick that led to the own goal.— Simon Head (@simonhead) July 15, 2018
Penalty decision was never deliberate handball, but given as such.
Croatia are losing 2-1 to an incompetent referee so far. They have every right to be aggrieved, and don’t deserve to be behind.#WorldCup
After holding a relatively reputable 72% approval rating for the first half an hour, Pitana's popularity dropped to a new low before half time following this disastrous decision.
Post penalty referee Twitter rating: 21%
Paul Pogba makes it 3-1:
Although Pitana had no involvement in this goal, the fact that Paul Pogba stole the headlines with a wonderful curling effort from the edge of the penalty, was good news for the referee.
Pitana's approval rating on Twitter sneakily rose back up by 7%, as social media users forgot about VAR and began to talk about Paul. Labile. Pogba:
oh my god I’m so happy for paul pogba— A West (@ayyy_west) July 15, 2018
PAUL LABILE POGBA TEARS IN MY EYES— ARYAN (@unitedaryan) July 15, 2018
Post Pogba goal referee Twitter rating: 28%
Kylian Mbappe Does a Pele
Pitana's approval rating saw another slight increase after Mbappe scored his fourth goal of the tournament at the tender age of 19 (yes, that is depressing).
Like Pogba's goal, the referee did not have any telling involvement in the play, so through the sheer power of deflection, Pitana's rating rating reached 34%.
Born after @KMbappe 🇫🇷— Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) July 15, 2018
Apple App Store
Hulu #WorldCupFinal #CROFRA pic.twitter.com/ErV4Was2G6
⭐️🇫🇷 Kylian Mbappe becomes the first teenager since Pele in 1958 to score in a #WorldCupFinal— Sporting Life Football (@SportingLifeFC) July 15, 2018
🇧🇷 The Brazilian legend won the #WorldCup three times - and on this evidence you wouldn't bet against this French star doing the same#FRA #FRACRO pic.twitter.com/X10p6cCbEl
Post Mbappe goal referee Twitter rating: 34%
Hugo Lloris blunder:
The second half proved to be rather kind to the referee in truth, as there no real instances in which he was called upon to do anything other than flex his muscles a bit.
Croatia's second goal - which came courtesy of a horrific error from Hugo Lloris - proved to deflect attention further away from Pitana, and up his approval rating by 5%:
Post Mbappe goal referee Twitter rating: 39%
On the biggest day of his refereeing career, Nestor Pitana has hit the headlines. But judging by the 39% approval rating of his performance during the World Cup final, that probably isn't a good thing.