Wed | Feb 8, 2023

‘I came here to win the World Cup’

Mbappé stars as France ease into last eight

Published:Monday | December 5, 2022 | 12:10 AM
France’s Olivier Giroud (left) and  Kylian Mbappe celebrate after Mbappe  scored the team’s second goal during the World Cup round of 16 match between France and Poland at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar yesterday. AP
France’s Olivier Giroud (left) and Kylian Mbappe celebrate after Mbappe scored the team’s second goal during the World Cup round of 16 match between France and Poland at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha, Qatar yesterday. AP

DOHA, Qatar (AP):

It all seems so straightforward –laughable, perhaps – for Kylian Mbappé when it comes to the World Cup.

The France forward, who scored four goals when he led his country to the title four years ago as a 19-year-old phenom, put on yet another demonstration of how devastating he can be on the football field.

After it was over, Mbappé almost seemed to be chuckling as Robert Lewandowski came over to congratulate him.

Mbappé scored two goals yesterday and set up another for Olivier Giroud to give France a 3-1 victory over Poland and move the 2018 champions within three wins of successfully defending their title. He already has a tournament-best five goals in Qatar as Les Bleus have reached the quarterfinals for the third straight World Cup.

“The only objective for me is to win the World Cup,” Mbappé said. “The only thing I dream is this. I came here to win this World Cup. I didn’t come here to win the Golden Ball or Golden Boot. If I win it, of course I’m going to be happy, but that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to win, and I’m here to help the French national team.”

Lewandowski, a two-time FIFA player of the year, scored from the penalty spot in second-half stoppage time for Poland.

Mbappé scored his first goal in the 74th minute when he was left unmarked to blast in a long-range shot following a counterattack. He added another in stoppage time when Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny could only get a weak glove on another powerful shot from the man in the No. 10 shirt.

PLAYING WITH JOY

“He can change a match in just a moment, and he’s always playing with such joy, and we all want to share those smiles with him,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. “France needed a great Kylian Mbappé tonight, and they got one.”

Having also provided two assists, Mbappé has easily been the most productive player in Qatar.

After his latest exploits, Mbappé explained why he hadn’t addressed the media in Qatar before yesterday.

“I needed to focus on the tournament and my football,” he said through a translator, adding that he had volunteered to pay a French federation fine for his silence. “When I want to concentrate on something, that’s the way I function. And that’s why I didn’t want to come speak to you before now.

“I’ve been preparing for this tournament throughout the season, physically and mentally,” he added. “I wanted to be ready for this tournament, and I am.”

Mbappé celebrated his second goal by waving his arms for the crowd to cheer louder. Then he hoisted himself up on to the crossbar shortly after the final whistle in front of France’s celebrating fans.

Mbappé already has nine career World Cup goals, and if he stays healthy, he could probably play in another three editions of football’s biggest event – meaning he might approach the tournament’s career-scoring record held by Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored 16 goals over four World Cups.

“He hurt us today, but I am cheering for him because he is a real star,” Poland coach Czesław Michniewicz said through a translator. “I’m talking about (Lionel) Messi, (Cristiano) Ronaldo, Lewandowski. If someone is going to take over, I think Mbappé will be the player to be the best one (for) many years.”