WORLD CUP 2018: France 4 – 3 Argentina
Kylian Mbappe braces inspires France to thrilling win over Argentina
DW – A second half brace from the sensational Kylian Mbappe inspired France to a thrilling win over Argentina. Both sides led in an incredible start to the knockout stages that means Lionel Messi’s Argentina are going home.
France 4-3 Argentina, Kazan Arena, Kazan
(Griezmann 13′, Pavard 57′, Mbappe 64′, 68′ — Di Maria 41′, Mercado 48′, Aguero 90+3′)
At times like this, it’s easy to forget that Kylian Mbappe is still only 19.
Mbappe wasn’t even born when France won the World Cup in 1998, but he’s rapidly becoming France’s key man in their quest to win a second world crown.
From the start of this instant classic, it was clear Mbappe was going to be handful for an Argentina defense that lacks youth, speed or mobility.
France took the lead through Antoine Griezmann’s penalty, which was cooly dispatched after Mbappe outstripped half the Argentina team for pace with a searing run that started in his own half. The run ended with Marcos Rojo hauling the PSG striker to the ground.
Argentina dominated possession but struggled to do anything with it, while France were far more explosive on the ball, and Mbappe’s pace was causing Argentina’s defence all kinds of problems.
But Argentina hit back in emphatic style, with Angel di Maria arrowing a long-range shot past Hugo Lloris.
Things got even better for Argentina three minutes after the break, when Gabriel Mercado inadvertently redirected Lionel Messi’s shot past the wrongfooted Lloris.
But Argentina’s lead lasted only seven minutes as the game’s second stunning strike saw France draw level. The Stuttgart right-back ran on to a loose ball on the edge of the box and caught it perfectly, cutting across the ball and sending it beyond the dive of Armani.
That swung the momentum France’s way and their 19-year-old did the rest, scoring two fine goals to ultimately put the game beyond Argentina. His first came from close range, shifting the ball brilliantly to his left and low under Armani. The second saw him slot in after France had worked the ball impressively from the back.
Argentina were on the ropes at this point and couldn’t break down a France side who were sitting deep and soaking up the pressure. They made it interesting in stoppage time when Sergio Aguero rose well to nod in Messi’s cross, but it was too little too late for the Argentines.
France go through to the last eight, where they will meet Uruguay or Portugal.
As it happened:
FULL TIME: Well, where to start with that one? A breathless game that sets the bar high for the knockouts. Kylian Mbappe produced one of the performances of the tournament so far, there were wonder strikes from Benjamin Pavard and Angel di Maria and almost the most dramatic of late comebacks. But at the end of it all Lionel Messi and Argentina are going home while France will play the winner of Portugal vs. Uruguay later on.
90+5′ – Last chance and Argentina get it forward down the left. The cross comes in and Fazio flicks over the bar. And that’s it.
90+3′ – Pogba is chopped down by Mercado and the players engage in a spot of handbags which sees Giroud booked. Really stupid stuff from Argentina.
90+3′ – GOAL! They can’t can they? Messi clips in a lovely ball to the back post and Aguero rises to head home. Two minutes left.
90 – Di Maria glides past Hernandez, cuts back and hits a weak shot, which is blocked by Umtiti. There’s four minutes of injury time.
88′ – Thauvin enters the fray in place of Mbappe. What a performance from the 19-year-old. He hadn’t even been born when France won the World Cup in 1998.
—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: June 30, 2018 at 01:13PM