Kylian Mbappe’s magnificent performance inspired France to a 3-1 win over Poland as the holders advanced to the World Cup quarter-finals where England or Senegal await.
Olivier Giroud also shone in the last 16 tie, hitting the opener to overtake Thierry Henry and stand alone as Les Bleus’ leading goalscorer, before Mbappe added a delightful brace to secure a comfortable win.
It was a positive start from Didier Deschamps’ men with Aurélien Tchouameni stinging the fingertips of Wojciech Szczesny, while Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele tormented the Polish full-backs with their pace and trickery. But Poland opened up the champions down the left through Bartosz Bereszyński, but two misses from Piotr Zielinski and another from Jakub Kaminski, thanks to Raphael Varane’s goalline clearance, kept the score level.
And Poland were soon punished as Kamil Glik and Jakub Kiwior made a mess of their line. Mbappe slipped in Giroud to break the deadlock with angled finish low past Szczesny. Poland plugged away and admirably stayed in the contest, until Giroud’s delicate touch from a high clearance, sparking a devastating counter-attack which was finished off by Mbappe’s thumping finish at the near post from the edge of the area. Another Mbappe thunderbolt landed in stoppage time, before Dayot Upamecano’s handball was harshly penalised for a late penalty, leaving Robert Lewandowski to secure a consolation from the retaken spot kick.
Here are the player ratings from the Al Thumama Stadium:
Lloris 5: Stood tall to deny Zielinski powerful hit, even if it was straight at him. But poor distribution almost gifted Frankowski a route on goal. And dreadful handling to drop the ball on Lewandowski’s head and luckily gathers after the bounce.
Kounde 6: Strong and powerful to deny Frankowski after Lloris’ error, but did lose Glik at the back post for a half-chance in the air as Poland chased the game.
Varane 7: Goalline clearance to deny Kaminski, not troubled by Lewandowski.
Upamecano 6: Dominant throughout, an easy game for him at times. Harshly penalised for the penalty as he turned to block a cross.
Theo Hernández 6: A more reserved display here, disciplined and coped well with Kaminski and Cash.
Griezmann 7: Trickery inside the box caused havoc, then opened up Poland beautifully and found the man over (Dembele) for glorious chance in first half. Lovely range of passing and showed off his range of gears to lead Les Bleus in transition.
Tchouameni 5: Ripped one from distance that forced Szczesny into a smart stop, but outmuscled by Lewandowski to gift a clear sight at goal.
Rabiot 7: Good distribution and reads it well, helps France change the tempo well at times. Superb tournament gets better.
Dembele 6: A poor square ball for Giroud at the back post forced the miss with the overreach. Then switches off and leaves Bereszyński free to surge down the line and into area. But added width and a decisive final ball to Mbappe for the second.
Giroud 8: A bad miss at the back post with the goal at his mercy, even if Dembele’s ball was too strong. Tidy run and angled finish to break deadlock though. A gorgeous first touch to set up and lead the counter-attack for the second.
Mbappe 9: Rampant from the first whistle, acceleration is frightening. Vision and creativity to supply the assist for Giroud. Then a thunderous strike to double the lead, so much control and yet too much power for Szczesny too. Added a second with an even harder hit late on.
Szczesny 6: Denied Tchouaméni and then read the clever flick from Griezmann. Nothing he could do with either goal.
Bereszynski 7: Great challenge on Dembele early on, then lovely feet and touch to give and go, getting around Kounde to create the biggest chance of first half for Zielinski.
Kiwior 5: Slow to get to Giroud for the goal and generally struggled to control distance.
Glik 5: Strange decision to step up and offer the space of Giroud to score, couldn’t get close to Giroud.
Cash 5: Struggled with Mbappe, who ghosted past him early on and gave him a torrid time throughout. One superb recovery with the Mbappe poised to sprint straight in on goal.
Frankowski 5: Struggled to get past Kounde and give Poland that cutting edge.
S. Szymanski 5: Workmanlike performance but unable to influence the game in possession.
Krychowiak 4: Sloppy in possession to leave Poland exposed to a Mbappe counter-attack, then turned and outpaced by Griezmann in transition.
Zielinski 5: A big miss while unmarked and coming onto the ball 13 yards from goal.
Kaminski 6: Unlucky when his rebounded effort cleared off the line.
Lewandowski 5: Poor free-kick and while isolated again failed to make the most of the time on the ball he did have, Poland may regret being stuck between styles of play and failing to commit on how to use the Barcelona striker. A retaken spot kick gave him a parting gift in what looks like his last game on football’s biggest stage.
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