By Chux Odoh
Kylian Mbappe was the star of the day as France defeated South American giants Argentina 4-3 to knock Lionel Messi and his compatriots out of Russia 2018.
The PSG 19-year-old youngster was a problem to contain right from the opening 10 minutes of the game as Argentina’s central defenders Marcos Rojo and Nicolas Otamendi were simply not remotely equipped to cope with his form on the day.
France came close to opening the scoring in the 8 minute when Antione Griezmann’s freekick struck the upright. However, it was Mbappe’s blistering run a few minutes later that brought about the chance for France to go ahead from the penalty spot. Marcos Rojo was adjudged to have brought down Mbappe inside the box and it was Griezmann who stepped forward to convert calmly for his second goal in the tournament.
The game looked to be one-sided as Argentina struggled to find their rhythm which they’ve lacked for most of the competition. But against the run of play, a brilliant moment of genius by Angel Di Maria gave the Argentines their equaliser in the 43rd minute. Di Maria was left with some free space outside the box and he curled his shot perfectly to the left side of the goal with little or nothing that Lloris could do about it.
Di Maria’s goal had the game tied at halftime with one goal each and as the second half resumed, it was Argentina who took the lead after Paul Pogba’s weak attempt to clear the ball put his side under pressure. The chance fell for Messi whose shot towards goal was deflected by teammate Gabriel Mercado to get the goal.
With Argentina going in front for the first time, the game set up for a thriller and soon enough, France got the equaliser as Benjamin Pavard’s half-volley to the top corner found the back of the net in the 57th minute
In the 64th minute, it was the turn for the man of the moment to get his first goal in the game. Kylian Mbappe’s quick foot in the 6-yard box helped him to create space for himself before he shot with his left foot to beat the Argentine goalkeeper Franco Armani.
Four minutes later, it was Mbappe to get his second of the game. Pogba, Griezmann and Giroud combined beautifully in the build before releasing Mbappe in the right who slotted in swiftly towards goal and beyond Armani.
Argentina tried to fight back and got a goal back in the 93rd minute from substitute Sergio Aguero who connected a cross from Lionel Messi and headed down into the right corner. But time ran out for the Argentine as the game finished 4 -3 in favour of the 1998 champions.
Kylian Mbappe with his efforts today becomes the first teenager since Pele in 1958 to score twice in a world cup knockout game.