Teen star leads France to quar­ter­fi­nals

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS - By Pan Py­las

KAZAN, Rus­sia — What Lionel Messi has never done, 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe did twice.

The quick-footed French teenager scored two goals in a five-minute span of the sec­ond half to help his team rally for a 4-3 vic­tory over Ar­gentina. Satur­day’s vic­tory gave France a spot in the World Cup quar­ter­fi­nals.

Messi, who turned 31 dur­ing his fourth and pos­si­bly fi­nal World Cup, set up a pair of goals but again failed to score in a knock­out match at the big­gest event in soc­cer. Mbappe got his two in his first at­tempt. “Of course, as I’ve al­ready and al­ways said, in the World Cup you have all the top level play­ers so it is an op­por­tu­nity to show what you can do and what your abil­i­ties are,” said Mbappe, who now has three goals in Rus­sia. “There is no bet­ter place than a World Cup.”

Mbappe was a con­stant threat to Ar­gentina’s creaking de­fense with his speed and skill and was at the heart of France’ s of­ten-breath­tak­ing dis­play, par­tic­u­larly in the mid­dle of the sec­ond half.

He be­came the sec­ond teenager to score mul­ti­ple goals in a knock­out match at the World Cup. Pele was the other, do­ing it twice at 17 at the 1958 tour­na­ment in Swe­den.

“It is flat­ter­ing to be the sec­ond one af­ter Pele but let’s put things in con­text. Pele is an­other cat­e­gory,” Mbappe said. “But it’s good to be among the play­ers to score in knock­out matches.”

With the score 2-2, Mbappe got his first goal with a cool fin­ish from a tight an­gle in the 64th minute, his low shot go­ing un­der Ar­gentina goal­keeper Franco Ar­mani. Four min­utes later, he slot­ted past Ar­mani again.

Mbappe also helped France to its first goal. Fol­low­ing a sus­tained pe­riod of early pres­sure, he won a penalty af­ter a 40-me­ter burst of speed that ended with him be­ing brought down by Mar­cos Rojo. An­toine Griez­mann then scored from the spot in the 13th minute, send­ing Ar­mani the wrong way.

“Our team is much younger, but we are there. We an­swered the call,” France coach Di­dier Deschamps said. “It was not easy be­cause we were lead­ing and then there was an equal­izer. Then they led 2-1, but we kept fight­ing. There is an ex­cel­lent men­tal­ity in this group and we did ev­ery­thing to go further. We couldn’t miss it and we did win it.”

/ AP-David Vin­cent

France’s Kylian Mbappe cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing his side’s third goal dur­ing the round of 16 match be­tween France and Ar­gentina at the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Rus­sia.

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