epa06852080 Nicolas Tagliafico of Argentina (L) and Kylian Mbappe of France (R) in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between France and Argentina in Kazan, Russia, 30 June 2018.

by
Graeme Jackson

Saturday Jun 30, 2018. 18:00


Kylian Mbappe earned a penalty and scored two goals as France defeated Argentina 4-3 in a thrilling 2018 World Cup last 16 clash at the Kazan Arena on Saturday.

A three-goal salvo in the space of 11 second-half minutes saw ‘Les Bleus’ come from behind to defeat the ‘Albiceleste’ and become the first team to ink their name in the quarterfinal line-up.

France dominated the early stages and nearly claimed the lead in the ninth minute as Antoine Griezmann rattled the crossbar with a shot direct from a free kick.

Yet the French forward scored from a penalty four minutes late to put his team 1-0 up. The spot kick was awarded after Marcos Rojo had to resort to pulling down Kylian Mbappe to halt his powerful run.

The speedy teenager was a constant menace to Argentina’s defence, and Nicolas Tagliafico almost gave away another penalty for a foul on Mbappe – luckily for the ‘Albiceleste’ left-back the infringement was just outside the 18-yard area.

Yet while ‘Les Bleus’ always looked threatening in attack, Argentina gradually gained a foothold in the game and they were rewarded for their determination in the 41st minute, as Angel Di Maria scored from a fearsome long-range hit to make it 1-1.

The South Americans completed the turnaround three minutes into the second half. A free kick was only half-cleared and found its way to Lionel Messi on the edge of the box, he in turn sent a low shot toward goal, but teammate Gabriel Mercado redirected it enough to wrong-foot goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and put Argentina 2-1 up.

France nearly restored parity in the 55th minute when a mix-up at the back from Argentina almost let Griezmann in, but shortly thereafter a magnificent strike from right-back Benjamin Pavard – who struck a swerving volley into the top corner – made it 2-2.

This roller-coaster game took another twist in the 64th minute, as Mbappe picked up a loose ball in the Argentina penalty area and fired a low effort through the legs of goalkeeper Franco Armani to make it 3-2 in favour of ‘Les Bleus’.

Four minutes later France put together a superb attacking move which ended with Olivier Giroud’s deft ball putting Mbappe in on goal, and the 19-year-old coolly passed home a low shot to make it 4-2 and knock the stuffing out of the South Americans.

Argentina pulled a goal back deep in injury time when Sergio Aguero headed home from Messi’s cross, but it was nothing more than a consolation.

France saw out the remainder of the game to claim victory and book a place in the first quarterfinal match next Friday at Nizhny Novgorod against either Portugal or Uruguay.

France (1) 4 (Girezmann pen 13’, Pavard 57’, Mbappe 64’ 68’)

Argentina (1) 3 (Di Maria 41’, Mercado 48’, Auguero 90+3’)

France: Lloris, Pavard, Umtiti, Varane, Hernandez, Kante, Pogba, Matuidi (Tolisso 75’), Mbappe (Thauvin 89′), Giroud, Griezmann (Fekir 83’)

Argentina: Armani, Mercado, Otamendi, Rojo (Fazio 46’), Tagliafico, Perez (Aguero 66’), Mascherano, Banega, Pavon (Meza 75’), Messi, Di Maria


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epa06852080 Nicolas Tagliafico of Argentina (L) and Kylian Mbappe of France (R) in action during the FIFA World Cup 2018 round of 16 soccer match between France and Argentina in Kazan, Russia, 30 June...