Mbappé and France make statement to extend their title defences
To repeat the title, however, France needs more of what Mbappé did on Sunday. With Poland tiringly chasing him in the second half, Mbappé fired a shot into the left corner in the 74th minute to give France a 2-0 lead. It was his eighth career goal at the World Cup, overtaking Pelé for most in the tournament before the age of 24. Mbappé didn’t stop there; He added a third French goal in the first minute of added time, his fifth World Cup leader. It put him in first position for the tournament’s awards for Best Player and Top Goalscorer.
“I came here to win the World Cup, not the Golden Ball or the Golden Boot,” he said.
Sunday brought the result that was expected from France. France remained one of the title favorites despite a series of injuries to key players such as World Player of the Year Karim Benzema, defender Lucas Hernandez and midfielders N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba. They had little trouble in the group stage, losing their last match against Tunisia after already earning a place in the knockout stages and resting many starters.
Poland, on the other hand, narrowly escaped the group stage and reached the knockout stages for the first time since 1986. While it had been criticized for being too defensive and conservative, despite star forward Robert Lewandowski, Poland surprised France in a hard fought first half with a more aggressive attack.
With France stumbling at times on defence, teams exchanged moments of pressure and wasted chances until Giroud broke through late in the first half. He received a pass from Mbappé on the edge of the box that caught the attention of the Poles and then fired a left-footed shot across his body past Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
France then broke away in the second half as Mbappé took over the game. In the 74th minute, he and striker Ousmane Dembélé raced across the field after a Polish rally, Dembélé feeding Mbappé a long cross. Mbappé paused uncovered on the left side of the penalty area, collected himself and drilled a shot into the net for a 2-0 lead.
“No coach knows a recipe to stop Mbappé in his current form,” said Poland’s coach Czeslaw Michniewicz through an interpreter. After mentioning other stars like Ronaldo, Messi and Lewandowski, Michniewicz said Mbappé will be “the one who takes over the sport”.
Even with a comfortable lead, Mbappé continued to attack. Shortly after injury time began, he curled a shot from the edge of the penalty area into the top right corner for his second goal of the game and then celebrated.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/04/sports/mbappe-france-world-cup-bracket.html Mbappé and France make statement to extend their title defences