Wed | Dec 12, 2018

It's Mbappe not Messi

Published:Sunday | July 1, 2018 | 12:00 AM
France's Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring his side's third goal during the World Cup round of 16 match between France and Argentina in Kazan, Russia, yesterday.

KAZAN, Russia (AP):

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 and a spot in the World Cup quarter-finals.

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 defence 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 after he was put through on goal by a deft pass from Oliver Giroud.

Mbappe also helped France to their first goal. Following a sustained period of early pressure, he won a penalty after a 40-metre 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.

Mbappe was born a few months after France won the 1998 World Cup at home, their only title at the tournament.

France will next face Uruguay in the quarter-finals on Friday in Nizhny Novgorod. Blaise Matuidi will miss the match after receiving a second yellow card of the tournament.

Argentina briefly took the lead in the 48th minute at Kazan Arena, but France defender Benjamin Pavard equalised nine minutes later with a superb strike from outside the area.

"It is too soon to analyse concrete mistakes we might have made," Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said. "I am sure there might have been mistakes."

Angel Di Maria, Gabriel Mercado and late substitute Sergio Aguero scored for Argentina. Messi set up the latter two, first sending a shot on goal that Mercado deflected into the net in the 48th.