Kylian Mbappe announced his arrival at the World Cup as France secured a wonderful 4-3 comeback victory against Argentina on Saturday afternoon to book their place in the quarter-finals.
The youngster’s contribution started early as he drew a foul from Marcos Rojo in the penalty area, with Antoine Griezmann slotting home from the spot. Les Bleus’ tempo dropped though as a stunning goal from Angel Di Maria and a deflected effort from Gabriel Mercado flipped the game on its head.
That only served to give Didier Deschamps’ men motivation as Benjamin Pavard also hit a fantastic half-volley to equalise. Mbappe, who was brilliant throughout the game, netted his first following poor defending from Argentina in the 64th minute, before finishing off a sweeping move only four minutes later to secure his second and the win, albeit with Sergio Aguero striking in the final seconds.
Mbappe masterful as France take the lead
Deschamps’ troops created the best opportunity of the opening stages as Mbappe was scythed down on the edge of the Argentina penalty area. Griezmann stepped up to the free-kick but thundered his effort against the crossbar.
Mbappe was a thorn in the side of the Argentinians throughout the opening ten minutes, and was key as Les Blues earned a penalty. Picking up the ball on the edge of his own area, the Paris Saint Germain man raced the length of the pitch, riding numerous challenges. Once he got to the Argentine goal, he was unceremoniously tripped by Marcos Rojo and the referee signalled the spot-kick. Griezmann again took control to roll the ball past Franco Armani to claim the lead.
Pace the problem for Argentina
Nicolás Tagliafico was the next to suffer due to Mbappe’s terrifying pace. The ball was again played over the defence with the youngster controlling expertly. He again was bundled to the floor on the edge of the area, but Paul Pogba could not profit as he lifted the ball high over goal from the resultant free-kick.
Griezmann then did brilliantly to wriggle away from Gabriel Mercado near the byline but his low cross was cut-out by Armani.
Di Maria blockbuster drags Argentina level
Jorge Sampaoli’s men grew into the match with the first-half drawing t0 a close and Angel Di Maria hit a wonderful strike to equalise. Picking up the ball 30 yards from goal, the Paris Saint Germain forward set his sights for goal. The ball flew past Hugo Lloris and crashed into the back of the net for what was arguably the goal of the tournament so far.
Only minutes after the break, Argentina hit the front through Mercado. From a free-kick, Lionel Messi found himself in space on the edge of the box and shot for goal. The ball took a huge deflection off of the defender, wrong-footing Lloris in the process and nestling into the back of the net.
Pavard hits a stunning strike for France
France were almost gifted an equaliser as Federico Fazio, who had replaced Rojo at half-time, played a sloppy back-pass. Griezmann intercepted but could not find the net and prodded wide.
Pavard went one better though as he hit a fantastic strike. Lucas Hernández’s deep cross found it’s way to the young full-back on the corner of the box, and taking the ball on the half-volley, found the net to stun the Argentinians.
It soon got better for Les Bleus as Mbappe again wrote his name all over the match. Another Hernández cross caused yet more chaos in the penalty area, finding its way to the young forward. He dribbled in-and-out of challenges and only yards from goal, stroked it underneath Armani to reclaim the advantage.
France flying through to the quarters
The youngster was in an unplayable mood and he doubled his afternoon’s work with another stunning goal. Released following good work from Olivier Giroud, he raced free into the box and scored with a thunderous, low drive.
Messi should have found the net within the final five minutes as he danced into the penalty area but his shot did not have enough purchase to trouble Lloris and dent France’s advantage. Sergio Aguero did find the net though as he got free at the back post from Messi’s cross and nodded home to give Argentina hope in the final few minutes.
France held on however, and they soar into the last-eight, whilst Argentina fall at the first knockout round for the first time since 1994.
What a performance from France, especially from their young superstar Kylian Mbappe. Les Bleus attack was on-song all afternoon, even when Argentina seized the lead. France’s mental strength also has to be praised having fallen behind but stormed back with a vengeance, and booked their place in the quarter-finals as a result.
In relation to Argentina though, there were the same problems that have plagued them throughout the World Cup. Their defence was not strong enough. There will surely be numerous changes to the squad ahead of the next tournament.
France: Lloris (6); Hernández (7), Umtiti (6), Varane (7), Pavard (7); Kanté (8), Pogba (8), Matuidi (6) (Tolisso (N/A), 75′); Mbappe (9) (Thauvin (N/A), 89′), Giroud (7), Griezmann (7) (Fekir (N/A), 84′).
Argentina: Armani (5); Tagliafico (6), Rojo (5) (Fazio (5), 46′), Otamendi (6), Mercado (6); Pérez (6) (Aguero (7), 66′), Mascherano (5), Banega (6); Pavón (5) (Mez (N/A), 75′), Di Maria (7), Messi (7).
Goals: Griezmann PEN (13′), Di Maria (41′), Mercado (48′), Pavard (57′), Mbappe (64′, 68′), Aguero (90+3′)
Referee: Alireza Faghani
Yellow Cards: Rojo (11′), Tagliafico (19′), Mascherano (43′), Banega (50′), Matuidi (72′), Giroud (90+3′), Otamendi (90+3′)
Red Cards: N/A
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