Football: Mbappe double fires France into World Cup quarter-finals

Jed Court, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 05 2022 03:25 AM

Players of France celebrate with fans after winning the FIFA World Cup 2022 round of 16 soccer match between France and Poland at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, 04 December 2022. EPA-EFE/Ali Haider
Players of France celebrate with fans after winning the FIFA World Cup 2022 round of 16 soccer match between France and Poland at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar, 04 December 2022. EPA-EFE/Ali Haider

DOHA, Qatar - A brilliant double from Kylian Mbappe fired holders France into the World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday as England prepared for a demanding knockout clash with Senegal.

Paris Saint-Germain superstar Mbappe rifled home two blistering second-half strikes as France romped to a 3-1 victory over Poland.

Veteran striker Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for Les Bleus with his 52nd international goal to pass Thierry Henry as France's all-time leading scorer.

But the undisputed star of the show at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha was the 23-year-old Mbappe, who took his career World Cup goals tally to nine in two tournaments.

"It wasn't easy because Poland were well organized and tried to counter us," France coach Didier Deschamps said.

"Then there is Kylian with his ability to resolve all sorts of problems, and that's just as well for us.

"This team has been united from the beginning and obviously a result like this one confirms that. The joy is shared among everyone."

Poland's lone strike came from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time, with striker Robert Lewandowski converting a retaken spot-kick that was awarded for handball by Dayot Upamecano. 

France are bidding to become the first team to win successive World Cups since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 after winning Group D in Qatar.

With Mbappe in blistering form, few would bet against France completing their quest for a third World Cup crown to set alongside their titles in 1998 and 2018.

France's path towards the World Cup final on December 18 could include a quarter-final showdown against England.

Gareth Southgate's team are slated to meet France in the last eight if they beat Senegal later Sunday.

Selection surprise

England reached the semi-finals four years ago and finished runners-up at Euro 2020, and got off to a fine start in Qatar by winning Group B.

And they believe they can win the tournament in Qatar to finally end their agonising wait for a first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.

"That is not being over-confident, that is being humble enough to see what goes on in our training and how the staff prepare, and believing in ourselves too," said England defender John Stones.

England manager Southgate sprang a selection surprise by restoring Arsenal's Bukayo Saka to the starting line-up ahead of Marcus Rashford, who scored twice in a 3-0 win over Wales on Tuesday.

Rocked by the loss to injury of talisman Sadio Mane before the tournament, Senegal reached the World Cup knockout stage for only the second time after Tuesday's 2-1 win against Ecuador secured the runners-up spot in Group A.

"We are capable of beating anyone and we need to be convinced of that," said Senegal assistant coach Regis Bogaert.

Off the pitch, Arsene Wenger, FIFA's football development chief, suggested that the teams who have been successful in the tournament were those who ignored the controversies surrounding hosts Qatar.

Germany's players covered their mouths before their opening game in a protest against the ban on wearing a rainbow-themed armband in support of LGBTQ rights.

The four-time world champions were later knocked out at the first hurdle.

"The teams (who did well) as well who were mentally ready, who had the mindset to focus on the competition and not on political demonstrations," said Wenger.

Brazil meanwhile prepared for their last-16 clash with South Korea on Monday boosted by news that star striker Neymar could return.

The PSG forward has not played since limping off with an ankle injury in Brazil's opening game, but coach Tite said Sunday he was hopeful Neymar would feature against the Koreans.

"Regarding Neymar, he's going to train this afternoon and if he's OK, he will play tomorrow," Tite said.

rcw/pst

© Agence France-Presse

Watch more News on iWantTFC