The excessive pace of the young French players proved too much for an ageing Argentina side as the Les Blues overpowered the Albiceleste 4-3 in a thrilling 2018 Fifa World Cup last 16 clash at the jam-packed Kazan Arena in Russia Saturday. Kylian Mbappe scored twice in the second half while Benjamin Pavard and Antoine Griezmann netted one apiece for the 1998 world champion.
An Angel di Maria stunner brought parity while Gabriel Mercado and Sergio Aguero also scored but it was too little, too late for the two-time champion.
France started the game with a lot of pace and their No 10 Mbappe created a lot of problems for the Argentina defence.
In the 13th minute, PSG star Mbappe was brought down by Marcos Rojo inside the box and Griezmann made no mistake from the penalty spot, hitting the back of the net with a neat shot. The Sky Blues players protested heavily, along with their fans, but the referee stayed true to his decision.
In the 19th minute, Mbappe received a sublime pass from Paul Pogba. Nicolas Tagliafico had no other option but to bring down Mbappe on the edge of the box, handing a free-kick to France. Pogba though, much to the frustration of the French fans, shot over the bar.
Rojo was troubled several times by the pacey French forwards and in the 27th minute, Griezmann dribbled past him and slalomed into the box but his low cross from the right side was saved by goalkeeper Franco Armani.
Argentina did not create that many openings till the 40th minute. Whereas France got zero corners throughout the game, four came in the way of Argentina but the Albiceleste couldn’t capitalise.
In the 41st minute, Di Maria equalised through a wonderful individual goal. The winger got some free space outside the box. The PSG superstar went for goal and pulled the trigger with his left foot from 35 yards out. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris dived to his left but was unable to stop it from hitting the net.
The game was all square at the halfway stage when Argentina brought on Federico Fazio.
Three minutes after resumption, the south Americans got the lead through a lucky goal from Mercado. Messi found the ball on the right side of the box and sent a low shot towards goal. The ball touched Mercado’s legs and deflected into the net, sending Lloris the wrong way.
Kylian Mbappe is the first teenager to score more than once in a World Cup tournament since Michael Owen scored one in 2 separate games in 1998. Mbappe wasn’t born then. He’s also the first teenager to score 2 in a match since Pele v Sweden in the final of 1958. 😳— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 30, 2018
The lead though was cancelled brilliantly by Pavard in the 57th minute. A mis-hit in the Argentina box saw the ball land at the feet of Pavard and the defender unleashed a powerful volley to beat Armani.
Seven minutes later, Mbappe exhibited his pace once again and finished beautifully from close range. Owing to some casual clearances by the Argentine defenders, Mbappe got the ball on the left and beat Armani on the near post.
Just four minutes later, French sensation Mbappe sealed the game for his country. Griezmann, Pogba and Olivier Giroud combined together to send the ball forward as Mbappe beat Armani yet again with a decisive shot.