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FIFA World Cup 2022: Mbappe brace sends France into last-16

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FIFA World Cup 2022: Mbappe brace sends France into last-16
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France became the first team to advance to the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup after overcoming Denmark 2-1 in Group D at Stadium 974.

Kylian Mbappe’s 30th goal for the national team sent the champions ahead before Andreas Christensen restored parity for Denmark, but the Paris Saint-Germain star doubled his tally in the dying minutes to ensure a place in the last 16.

 

France were not afraid to hang back and let Denmark knock the ball about in the early exchanges, with Kasper Hjulmand’s side struggling to make their periods of possession count for the most part.

The Danes held their breath in the 20th minute when Mbappe burned Christensen for pace and was hauled down by the Barcelona man while racing through on goal, but other defenders were covering, and only a yellow card was brandished.

Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele sought to cause the most issues out wide, and the latter whipped in an inviting ball for Adrien Rabiot to head towards goal in the 21st minute, but Kasper Schmeichel saved well to his right.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg got across well to block Jules Kounde’s goalbound effort in the 30th minute as France turned the screw, but they were handed a scare when Andreas Cornelius fired wide of Hugo Lloris’s near post after a quick break six minutes later.

Mbappe should have broken the deadlock five minutes before the break after being picked out in the box by Dembele, but the 23-year-old leant back and send his effort way over the crossbar.

Despite coming up with Denmark’s best chance of the first half, Cornelius – who had picked up a booking – was withdrawn at half time as Martin Braithwaite came on to try to spark some life into the Scandinavians’ attack.

However, it was Mbappe rather than Braithwaite who provided some much-needed attacking guile, spinning away from Andersen near the halfway line and charging towards goal before seeing his effort palmed over the top by Schmeichel.

Antoine Griezmann then fired over the top from a promising position on the hour mark as France’s lack of ruthlessness continued to cost them, but Les Bleus would banish their previous failures only one minutes later.

Some smart link-up play between Theo Hernandez and Mbappe on the left ended with the AC Milan defender cutting the ball back for the latter, whose first-time effort from close range took a slight nick off of Christensen into the back of the net for his 30th France goal.

The champions’ lead lasted all of seven minutes, though, as a Christian Eriksen corner was flicked on by Joachim Andersen for Christensen to head home into the roof of the net.

Denmark suddenly had their tails up, as Jesper Lindstrom forced Lloris into a decent save from close range in the 73rd minute, but Hjulmand’s side were thanking their lucky stars when a goalbound header from Aurelien Tchouameni was blocked by Joakim Maehle five minutes later.

Rabiot then sent a well-connected acrobatic effort just over the top at the far post in the 79th minute, and the chances were soon coming thick and fast for both teams as Braithwaite fired just wide from close range only a minute later.

In spite of the Danes’ spirited efforts, Mbappe would score the goal to seal France’s last-16 spot in the 86th minute, as the 23-year-old got in front of Rasmus Kristensen at the back post to meet Griezmann’s cross and deflect the ball into the back of the net off of his thigh.

Deschamps’s men navigated six minutes of injury time to confirm a top-two finish ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Tunisia, while Denmark must beat Australia to make the knockout rounds next week.


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