A second half brace from teenager Kylian MBappe and goals from Antoine Griezmann and Benjamin Pavard helped steer France to a sensational 4-3 win over Argentina in the first game of the round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup. Argentina’s goals came from Angel Di Maria, Meacado and Sergio Aguero as Lionel Messi and his team exited the competition at the first knock out stage.
A classic World Cup game was expected from two of the favourites to win it all and they managed to live up to expectations in an intense and enthralling encounter.
The early warning signs were there when man of the match MBappe was brought down on the edge of the area and Griezmann stepped up to smack the ball against the crossbar on minute 9.
Four minutes later France were ahead when Griezmann scored from the penalty spot, sending Franco Armani the wrong way to make it 1-0. The goal was created by the pace of M’Bappe who drove into the Argentine box from a run that began in his own half before he was fouled by Marcus Rojo who received a yellow card for his indiscretion.
Paul Pogba then provided a brilliant pass from midway his half for MBappe to run unto and the willing runner was brought down just outside the box by the struggling Argentine defence. The subsequent free kick was blasted over from 19 yards by Pogba in the 20th minute.
The Argentina defenders were having problems coping with the pace of MBappe who led almost every French attack.
Pogba produced a magnificent pass to pick out Griezmann down the right channel who then cut inside the box and tried to cross but it was too close to the goalkeeper who effected the save.
Meacado claimed a handball after a run into box but the referee waved away appeal.
There was another driving run from Pogba who passed to MBappe but the forward dwelled on the ball too long and was robbed by the Argentine defence.
Di Maria then level for Argentina with a strike out of nothing – a blazing effort from 28 yards into the top left corner of the net beyond the flailing left arm of Hugo Loris in the 41st minute. It was the first shot on target for Argentina and the first impact on the game by Di Maria, who produced a curling left footed effort that was virtually unstoppable.
Argentina had barely been more than passengers in the game up to that point and hardly deserved to be level at half time.
Three minutes after the restart the unthinkable happened. A Messi shot was inadvertently redirected into the back of the net by Meacado to give Argentina the lead at 2-1.
Argentina would enjoy the lead for 15 minutes before another super strike would draw the French level.
Right back Benjamin Pavard, with one of the goals of the tournament, hit the ball with a lot of back spin, showing brilliant technique to keep the ball down as it sneaked inside Armani's far post in the 58th minute and leveled the scores at 2-2.
Mbappe puts France back in front in the 64th minute as he ran onto a loose ball in the box and showed to skill to create the chance and fire home to make it 3-2.
The mass of French fans were still celebrating in the stands when Mbappe completed his brace. He was played in on goal by Olivier Giroud and stroked it home into the far post four minutes after his first strike to give his team a two goal cushion at 4-2.
Giroud fired the ball into the side netting after another driving run from Pogba as France threatened to run riot over the South Americans.
Messi had his first and only effort on target in the 85th minute but his weak effort while falling over failed to trouble Loris.
Sergio Aguero was a lively substitute, making runs into the box as he tried to create something for his team. The Manchester City strike would be rewarded for his efforts as he headed home a pass from Messi in the second minute of stoppage time to make it 4-3.
It would prove to be too little too late as the 2016 losing European Championship finalists became the first team to make it to the quarter finals of Russia 2018.