Kylian Mbappe starred as France overcame Argentina 4-3 in a quite astonishing last 16 clash at the World Cup in Kazan.
The game was level at half time as Angel Di Maria’s wonder strike cancelled out Antoine Griezmann’s penalty, before a second half of unparalleled drama.
Gabriel Mercado gave the South American’s a lead, before Benjamin Pavard brought the game level. Mbappé then scored a brace to take the game away from Argentina, with Sergio Aguero’s late header no more than consolation in what was one of the games of the tournament so far.
The deadlock was almost broken after only nine minutes, as Antoine Griezmann’s curling free-kick from the edge of the area smacked against the crossbar with Franco Armani motionless, although he wouldn’t have to wait too long after to open the scoring.
Minutes later, Mbappé did brilliantly to break at pace, before being hauled down by Marcos Rojo. The Atletico Madrid man calmly dispatched the resulting spot kick for his second of the tournament after 13 minutes.
Mbappe pace and movement was causing Argentina real problems all half, and gave Les Bleus another chance after another cumbersome challenge on him, this time from Nicolas Tagliafico, but Paul Pogba wasted the resulting free kick.
Despite being second best for large parts of the half against France’s dynamism, Argentina somewhat grew into the game towards the end of the period, and out of nothing found an unlikely equaliser. Afforded too much time 25 yards out, Angel Di Maria unleashed a stunning strike that gave Hugo Lloris no chance, bringing La Albiceleste level minutes before half time.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side started the second half far better than they did the first, and took the lead just three minutes after the restart. The ball fell to Lionel Messi following a free kick, who curled a tame effort towards goal, before Gabriel Mercado’s touch wrong-footed Lloris and found its way to goal.
The nerves were apparent for the South American side, who almost gifted France an equaliser when substitute Federico Fazio’s back pass almost let in Griezmann, before Benjamin Pavard did level the tie just short of the hour with a glorious effort from the edge of the area after Lucas Hernandez’s cross found its way through to him.
Les Bleusthenretook their lead after 64 minutes courtesy of their main threat all afternoon in
Mbappe. After the ball fell kindly to him in the area, the number ten found space and fired past Armani, while four minutes later the 19-year-old scored his second and France’s fourth with a calm finish to put France firmly in the ascendancy.
With a two goal cushion, Didier Deschamps side had the luxury of playing on the counter attack as Argentina searched for a route back into the game, and it looked unlikely until Messi found the head of substitute Sergio Aguero and set up a pulsating final few moments.
There was even a chance for Nicolas Otamendi right at the death, but France did hold on and edged Argentina in a thriller and booked their place in the quarter finals of the World Cup.