Kylian Mbappe stole the show as he outshined Lionel Messi in a thrilling encounter that sees France reach the quarter-finals.
The Paris Saint-Germain teenager won a penalty in the 13th minute for Antoine Griezmann with a blistering 75-yard and scored two goals in five minutes (64,68) after the break as Didier Deschamps’ side over and the setback of going behind too claim a convincing victory.
Argentina had hit back through a 30-yard Angel di Maria thunderbolt and a fortunate flick from Gabriel Mercado three minutes after the restart but they were outplayed for long periods in a game that could be Messi’s last at the World Cup.
Benjamin Pavard’s 57th minute half-volley – his first France goal – sparked a second-half surge and though substitute Sergio Aguero threatened a late twist with an injury-time header, Mbappe’s brave proved decisive, setting up a quarter-final tie against Portugal or Uruguay.
Messi, arguably one of the tournaments best players was still without a knockout goal at a World Cup. He earned a free-kick just three minutes in but it came to nothing and when Mbappe was felled at the other end, Griezmann curled his dead-ball effort against the crossbar.
Griezmann would soon go one better from the spot, sending Franco Armani the wrong way with a low strike, but the opportunity came from Mbappe’s explosive run near the edge of his own area, the teenager rounding Marcos Rojo with one final fearless touch before being shoved to the ground.
The impressive Paul Pogba found him again with a ball over the top as France threatened with every break against an Argentina side that dominated the ball to little effect, Messi was forced to drop deep.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side had not had a shot on target but when one came, Hugo Lloris didn’t stand a chance. Di Maria taking a square pass, nudging the ball onto his left foot and finding the top corner as a spectating Diego Maradona pinched the air.
Momentum then shifted towards the Argentinians and they were shared just three minutes after the restart. Messi recycled a free-kick back into the box and Mercado, back to goal, instinctively struck out a left boot to send Lloris the wrong way.
The game bristled with promise of further drama and France were level when Lucas Hernandez whipped in a ball that Packard struck on the half-volley, generating spin and slice that left Armani with no chance.
Mbappe changed the mood again, pouncing when another Hernandez cross threatened the Argentina back line. Mbappe turned his defender to fire a ball that squeezed through Armani’s grasp. The PSG frontman grabbed his second minutes later, finishing a sweeping move after Olivier Giroud slotted the ball into his path.
Messi scuffed a late shot straight at Lloris and though a fine deep cross allowed Aguero to beat the Tottenham keeper (90+3), there was not enough additional time to save the Argentinians from a flight home.
Sampaoli shocked most spectators of the World Cup by dropping Gonzalo Higuain to the bench and replacing him with midfielder Cristian Pavon. He also failed to use Juventus striker Paulo Dybala who could’ve changed the game and helped Argentina progress to the next round.
Deschamp reverted to the side that beat Peru in France’s second group game, with Pogba and Mbappe among those recalled.
France have reached the quarter-finals in consecutive World Cup campaigns for the first time.
Argentina are the first team to score at least three goals but still lose a World Cup match since the USSR against Belgium in 1986 (3-4).
France scored with all four of their shots on target in this match.
At 30.16 yards, Di Maria’s equaliser for Argentina was the longest range goal scored so far in the 2018 World Cup.
Argentina’s Messi is the only player to have delivered an assist in each of his last four World Cup tournaments.
Man of the Match – Kylian Mbappe
Pace, power, trickery and direct running are just some of the words to describe the 19-year-old. Young Mbappe starred on a afternoon that saw Messi bowed out. Mbappe is the first teenager to score multiple goals in a World Cup tournament since Michael Owen for England in 1998. He is also the first to score twice in a World Cup game since Pele netted a double for Brazil against Sweden in 1958.
France head to Nizhny Novgorod to face either Uruguay or Portugal in the quarter-finals, with the semi-finals at stake.
Share the post "France 4-3 Argentina: 2018 World Cup Round of 16 Review"