Kylian Mbappe stole the show with a brace and dazzling performance to send France through to the round of 16 at the Fifa World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Denmark on Saturday evening.
France demonstrated once again why they are being tipped to retain their crown as world champions as they are just stacked with quality in their attacking ranks. While it was Olivier Giroud who was the man of the moment on matchday one, this time around it was Les Bleus’ young superstar Mbappe. The pace and skill the young man possesses are frightening and he wreaked havoc on Denmark’s defence all evening and fully merited his two goals which were his 30th and 31st strikes for his country - equalling the legendary Zinedine Zidane. He is now joint-top scorer at the tournament alongside Ecuador's Enner Valencia with three.
His antics at club level aside, he is a magical player and he is imperative to his side and their ambitions of claiming a second successive World Cup title. Denmark put up a good fight but the explosive Mbappe proved to be too much for Kasper Hjulmand’s men. While the victory booked their place in the knockout stages, it was also a mental triumph for Les Bleus. Before tonight, France had not won against Denmark in a competitive fixture in their previous four meetings, with their last win coming in Euro 2000.
France were lively from the first whistle and Denmark were struggling to disrupt their play. The first real chance of the game landed for Adrien Rabiot, who opened Les Bleus’ account in Qatar against Australia. Ousmane Dembele floated in an inviting cross from the right and Rabiot’s powerful header wss brilliantly tipped away by Kasper Schmeichel.
The reigning champions looked the brighter of the two teams with the ball but Denmark had a great opportunity to go in front when they were gifted a swift break with Andreas Cornelius and Jesper Lindstrom. The Danish striker played a nice one-two with Lindstrom before unleashing a powerful drive just wide of Hugo Lloris’ near post, an effort he really should’ve hit the target with.
Moments later, Mbappe squandered a great chance himself as Dembele picked him out in space on the edge of the penalty area. The Paris Saint-Germain forward got it all wrong as he blazed his effort high over the crossbar.
Mbappe, Dembele and Antoine Griezmann were the brightest players on the pitch for Didier Descahmps’ side. Any positive play that France displayed involved either of the two creative stars. Some great defensive work from Griezmann set Mbappe away in the second half, but the striker could only sting the palms of Schmeichel.
France started to apply more pressure on the Danish defence with Griezmann having a great chance to score but he too couldn’t direct his shot on target. He was quickly forgiven as Mbappe broke the deadlock as he finished off a fine passing move to net his 30th goal for Les Bleus.
And while it seemed that could be it for Denmark, the Danes suddenly came to life. After some magical play by Lindstrom on the right, Denmark won a corner and Andreas Christensen headed home the equaliser after a nice flick-on by Joachim Andersen. De Rod-Hvide almost took the lead just minutes after. A neat pull-back from the left found Lindstrom unmarked in the box but his first-time effort was hit straight at Lloris, who was able to parry the ball away.
The game started to open up with both sides pushing for a winner. Down one end, Aurelien Tchouameni saw a diving header fly just inches past the near post for France, before substitute Martin Braithwaite drilled an effort wide from close range for Denmark.
Mbappe later sealed the three points for his side with a run timed to perfection which saw him sneak in at the back post to fire past Schmeichel and send the French fans wild.
For Denmark, they have left it all to play against Australia in their next match and they have to win to have a chance of reaching the knockout stages.