Giroud, Mbappe on target as France earn quarter final berth

Goals from Olivier Giroud and KylianMbappe secured France a place in the World Cup quarterfinals yesterday with a convincing 3-1 win over Poland.

Giroud looked certain to open the scoring early on as he arrived to tap in a back post cross from Ousmane Dembele into an open goal, but he could not reach it in time.

But he would not be denied though, rifling France ahead on 44 minutes with a superb turn and shot — his 52nd for Les Bleus and moving him ahead of Thierry Henry to become the country’s all-time top men’s scorer.

Mbappe doubled France’s advantage on 75 minutes with a powerful strike before adding another with a sensational curled finish into the far top right corner — his fifth of the tournament.

Poland scored a late consolation goal through a Robert Lewandowski penalty. The Poland striker missed on his first attempt but referee Jesus Valenzuela ordered for it to be re-taken, with Lewandowski scoring the second.

The result means France will continue their World Cup title defence in the quarterfinals against the winners of England and Senegal, who play later yesterday at press time.

France got off to a dominant start before abandoning possession, looking to create space in the back of the Polish defence after Mbappe’s first forays failed to lead to clear chances.

Poland’s poise was close to being rewarded in the 38th minute when the onrushing PiotrZielenski’s shot was parried by Lloris. It then came back into the midfielder’s path but his second attempt was deflected by Theo Hernandez.

Jakub Kaminski followed, only for his shot to be saved close to the goal-line by Raphael Varane.

One minute from the break, however, France’s tactics paid off.

Mbappe drew the defence to him and slid the ball through into the path of Giroud, who grabbed the inch of space he needed to clip the ball past Szczesny and net his third goal of the tournament.

The 36-year-old Giroud, who did not score a goal in Russia four years ago, had drawn level with Henry on 51 goals after netting a double in the defending champions’ 4-1 win over Australia in their opening Group D game.

France looked casual, especially Mbappe, but the forward came up with a spine-chilling rising shot that went under the bar before curling another jaw-dropping shot into the top corner one minute into injury time.

They were his fourth and fifth goals in Qatar, and Mbappe became the first player to score nine World Cup goals before his 24th birthday, having netted as many as Argentina‘s Lionel Messi.

A handball by Dayot Upamecano gave Lewandowski a chance of scoring a consolation goal with a penalty that was first saved by Lloris before being retaken – and scored – as the goalkeeper did not have his feet on the line. -Reuters

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