France’s quest for back-to-back World Cups continues as it became the first team to advance to the knockout round following a 2-1 win over Denmark on Saturday.
Unsurprisingly, they have Kylian Mbappé to thank. The 23-year-old phenom recorded a second-half brace for Les Bleus.
After a scoreless first half, France came out of the break with extra energy. In the 61st minute, Mbappé took the ball down the left sideline for a give-and-go with left back Theo Hernández. Once Hernández got the ball back to Mbappé with a cross back into the box, it was too late for Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who couldn’t see past the defense as the ball went by him and into the net.
Six minutes later, Denmark responded on a perfectly executed set piece. The corner came into Joachim Andersen, who headed the ball right in front of the goal. Teammate Andreas Christensen cleaned it up by sneaking a header past French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Denmark looked to hold on for the draw, but Mbappé had other plans. In the 86th minute, he connected on a cross from Antoine Griezmann, using his hip to tap the ball into the goal.
Mbappé has now scored in each of his last three World Cup games, dating back to 2018 when he joined Pele as the only players to score in a World Cup final as a teenager. He has seven career goals in the tournament and is in position to add to the total with a run in Qatar.
France is seeking to become only the third country to win back-to-back World Cups, and the first in 60 years since Brazil in 1962.
The win guarantees France’s place in the round of 16. They’ll face one of the top two teams out of a competitive Group C, which includes Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Denmark must beat Australia on Wednesday for a chance to advance. Even then, a win doesn’t guarantee them a place in the knockout round depending on the outcome of France-Tunisia and goal differential.
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