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Wednesday February 08, 2023

Giroud and Mbappe take ruthless France into World Cup quarter-finals

Kylian Mbappe set up a history-making goal for Olivier Giroud and then scored two himself as holders France eased into the World Cup quarter-finals

By AFP
December 04, 2022
Frances forward #09 Olivier Giroud celebrates with Frances forward #10 Kylian Mbappe (top) after scoring his teams first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between France and Poland at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha on December 4, 2022. — AFP
France's forward #09 Olivier Giroud celebrates with France's forward #10 Kylian Mbappe (top) after scoring his team's first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between France and Poland at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha on December 4, 2022. — AFP

DOHA: Kylian Mbappe set up a history-making goal for Olivier Giroud and then scored two himself as holders France eased into the World Cup quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Poland on Sunday.

Giroud’s opening goal a minute before half-time was his 52nd for his country, allowing him to pass Thierry Henry and become France’s all-time record marksman.

Mbappe’s lethal strike in the 74th minute killed off any prospect of a Poland comeback and he netted again at the death to move to nine goals in just 11 World Cup appearances.

At the other end, the threat of Robert Lewandowski was snuffed out by the French defence although the 34-year-old Poland captain did get the consolation of scoring a stoppage-time penalty.

France march on to the quarter-finals and are on course to become the first team to successfully defend the World Cup since Brazil 60 years ago.

"It wasn’t easy because Poland were well organised and tried to counter us," France coach Didier Deschamps told broadcaster TF1.

"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."

Lloris landmark

France were overwhelming favourites against a Poland side who limped through the group stage and who had not won a World Cup knockout tie since 1982.

"We got out of the group stage for the first time since 1986. That was our main objective," said Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz.

But he added: "There is no recipe to stop Mbappe in the form that he is in right now."

Mbappe returned as one of nine changes following their inconsequential defeat by Tunisia, with goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris also coming back to win his 142nd cap.

That saw him equal the record for most France appearances, held by Lilian Thuram, whose son Marcus came off the bench here.

It was a history-making occasion for France but what Deschamps wanted above all was a routine victory and progression to the last eight.

The sky should be the limit for a French side led by Mbappe, but it is not just him.

Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann were lively in a strong start at a hushed atmosphere at Al Thumama Stadium.

Emphatic

The fans were happy to sit back and be thrilled as the big screen at one point showed Mbappe had reached a top speed of 35 kilometres (21 miles) per hour.

France’s pace and pressing was too much for Poland as Przemyslaw Frankowski gave possession away, leading to Dembele crossing to the back post for Giroud to put the ball wide.

Poland recovered from a tentative start to almost go ahead in the 38th minute when Lloris blocked Piotr Zielinski’s shot and Jakub Kaminski’s follow-up was stopped on the line by Raphael Varane.

Those misses proved crucial as France seized the lead a minute before half-time.

Patient build-up play ended with Mbappe having a glance as he received the ball just outside the box before playing in Giroud, who took a touch and finished into the far corner.

Poland were left to chase the game in the second half and they sent on Juventus striker Arkadiusz Milik to support Lewandowski for the final half-hour.

However, their attack was no match for France, who picked off Poland to make it 2-0.

A Griezmann clearance was brought down by Giroud and he released Dembele, whose ball into the middle was controlled before being blasted home by Mbappe.

It was an emphatic finish and was followed by another of a similar calibre from a Thuram assist in stoppage time.

Only Just Fontaine, who scored 13 in 1958, has scored more World Cup goals for France than Mbappe.

Lewandowski pulled one back right at the end, converting a retaken penalty that was awarded for handball by Dayot Upamecano.