Kylian Mbappe eclipsed Lionel Messi as France reached the World Cup quarter-finals after a thrilling 4-3 win over Argentina in Kazan.
The Paris Saint-Germain teenager won a 13th-minute penalty for Antoine Griezmann with a storming 75-yard run and scored two goals in five minutes (64, 68) after the break as Didier Deschamps’ side overcame the setback of going behind to claim a convincing victory.
Argentina had hit back through a 30-yard Angel di Maria strike (41) and a fortuitous flick from Gabriel Mercado three minutes after the restart but they were outplayed for prolonged periods in a game that could be Messi’s last on the global stage.
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 double proved decisive, setting up a last-eight tie against Uruguay.
France: Lloris (6), Pavard (7), Varane (6), Umtiti (6), Lucas (7), Kante (7), Pogba (8), Mbappe (9), Griezmann (7), Matuidi (7), Giroud (7).
Subs used: Tolisso (6), Fekir (6), Thauvin (n/a).
Argentina: Armani (6), Mercado (7), Otamendi (6), Rojo (5), Tagliafico (5), Perez (6), Mascherano (5), Banega (6), Pavon (6), Messi (6), Di Maria (7).
Subs used: Fazio (5), Meza (6), Aguero (6).
Man of the match: Kylian Mbappe
Messi, a peripheral figure still without a knockout goal at a World Cup, had earned a free-kick chance 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 turf.
Jorge Sampaoli sprung a surprise by dropping striker Gonzalo Higuain to the bench and replacing him with midfielder Cristian Pavon.
Didier Deschamps reverted to the side that beat Peru in France’s second group game, with Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe among those recalled.
The impressive Paul Pogba found him again with a raking ball over the top as France threatened with each break against an Argentina side that dominated the ball to little effect, Messi forced to drop deep.
Jorge Sampaoli’s side had not had a shot on target but when one came, it took the breath, Di Maria taking a square pass, nudging the ball onto his left foot and finding the top corner as a watching Diego Maradona punched the air.
Momentum had suddenly shifted and despite the first-half mismatch, Argentina were ahead three minutes after the restart. Messi recycled a free-kick back into the box and Mercado, back to goal, instinctively stuck out a left boot.
The game bristled with promise of further drama and France were level when Lucas Hernandez whipped in a ball that Pavard struck on the half-volley, generating spin and slice that gave Armani no chance.
It was fitting that Mbappe, breathtaking in the first half-hour, changed the mood again, pouncing when another Hernandez broke loose to fire a ball that squeezed through Armani’s grasp. And he grabbed his second of the game minutes later, finishing a sweeping move after Olivier Giroud slotted into his path.
Messi scuffed a late shot straight at Hugo Lloris and though a fine deep cross allowed Aguero to beat the Tottenham goalkeeper (90+3), there was not enough additional time for a final twist that would have been ill-deserved.
Man of the match – Kylian Mbappe
Pace, power, direct running and serenity in front of goal, young Mbappe starred on a afternoon old maestro Messi bowed out. The 19-year-old France forward became the first teenager to score multiple goals in a World Cup tournament since Michael Owen for England in 1998 – and the first to score twice in a World Cup game since Pele netted a double for Brazil against Sweden in 1958.
- France have reached the quarter-finals in consecutive World Cup tournaments 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 vs Belgium in 1986 (3-4).
- France scored with all four of their shots on target in this match. They had scored three goals from 12 shots on target in the group stages.
- At 30.16 yards, Angel Di Maria’s equaliser for Argentina was the longest range goal scored so far in the 2018 World Cup.
- Argentina’s Lionel Messi is the only player to have delivered an assist in each of the last four World Cup tournaments.
France head to Nizhny Novgorod for a Friday afternoon clash against Portugal or Uruguay, with the semi-finals at stake.