France’s Kylian Mbappe became the youngest player since legendary Pele to score two goals in a World Cup. While Pele did it at the age of just 17, Mbappe has managed the feat at the age of 19.
He showed terrifying pace as neither the Argentina back line nor the ineffective and perhaps aging midfield of Enzo Perez and Javier Mascherano were able to contend with the skill and guile of the French forward.
Argentina played a high defensive line and it allowed Mbappe to exploit the space behind the defence. Marcos Rojo was the first to suffer as Mbappe picked up the ball after a loose ball control from Argentina midfield. He unleashed fury, bursting through a couple of tackles before taking on Rojo.
Rojo fouled the young Frenchman in the penalty area and Antoine Griezmann struck from the penalty spot to hand France the lead. Rojo, who picked up a yellow card for the tackle, was duly substituted at half time -- another way Mbappe made his mark in the game.
Argentina got lucky when Nicolas Tagliafico was shrewd enough to commit his foul just a few metres outside the penalty area after Paul Pogba had set Mbappe off with a long through ball to chase.
The trick to having a high line is to have a compact defense and midfield line. Argentina coach floundered in that department when he played Mascherano and Perez in midfield. Mbappe can make quick players look slow. Against Enzo Perez and Mascherano, who was one or two step behind the play on many occasions, Mbappe became a nightmare.
For his next two goals, Mbappe showed his pace over short distances. Argentina’s poor defensive discipline, let France run at them again and again, with Mbappe moving the ball quicker than anyone in the area for the third.
His second was a back-to-front team move finished by the razor-sharp teenager as Argentina midfield showed no awareness of defensive responsibility and the French striker finished off with ease.
Argentina had the chance to play with a midfield that atleast could close down spaces faster. Giovani Lo Celso, who plies his trade with French outfit Paris Saint-Germain is teammates with the teenage Mbappe. Surely he knew more about keeping track of Mbappe than an aging Mascherano. Lo Celso did not feature for a single minute at this World Cup. France exploited the space they were given and that is why they went through to the quarterfinal after a seven-goal thriller at Kazan.
France captain Hugo Llrois said before the game that Mbappe would have more space than in the first three games.
“Kylian has huge quality and potential, he's fast, explosive and needs space. I think [against Argentina] he'll have more space than the first three matches and as we go on in the competition the level will step up and will have less room for mistakes.
"Mbappe has the potential to make the difference in difficult moments,” he said.
French captain was proven right as Mbappe ran riot to seal victory for France as Argentina were given a reality check.