As all eyes were fixed on the World Cup final in Moscow, anti-Kremlin protesters ran on to the pitch in what was said to be one of the most thrilling competitions in the history of the tournament.

As France beat Croatia 4-2 to take the win, four people staged a pitch invasion in protest to "illegal arrests" in the country. 

During the 52nd minute, the group emerged at one end of the field at Luzhniki Stadium, with one making it to the centre circle before they were tackled by security. The match resumed after a delay of about one minute.

Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot have claimed responsibility for the disruption, saying on their Twitter feed: "Hello everyone from the Luzhniki field, it's great here."

The group then released a statement calling for the freeing of political prisoners, an end to "illegal arrests" of protesters and to "allow political competition" in Russia.

The Herald:

Their statement also referenced the case of Oleg Sentsov, a vocal opponent of Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, who was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years for conspiracy to commit terror acts.

He denies the charges and has been on a hunger strike since mid-May.

The four people who charged on to the field did so simultaneously in what appeared to be old-fashioned police uniforms were tackled to the ground by stewards.

Croatia defender Dejan Lovren pushed a male protester, helping a steward to detain him.

Before being hauled away, one woman managed to reach the centre of the field and share a double high-five with France forward Kylian Mbappe, who had a shot saved a minute earlier.

“The citizens in question were taken to the local police station,” the Moscow branch of the Russian Interior Ministry said, without providing further details.

The protest was briefly shown on international TV broadcasts, even though Fifa policy is usually to cut away from field invasions.

Pussy Riot first rose to global prominence with their daring outdoor performances critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2012 that sent two members to prison for nearly two years.

The Herald:

Putin was watching the game alongside his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and Fifa president Gianni Infantino.

As the award ceremony began, rain began to pour down, with Putin and Macron, caught by the downpour, when they climbed onto the podium to give medals to the players.

The victorious French players lifted the coveted trophy and engaged in passionate celebrations, despite the shower of rain lashing down on them.

US President Donald Trump, who last night headed to Finland for talks with Vladimir Putin, tweeted his congratulations to Putin and Russia for putting on a “truly great” World Cup.