Mbappe nets 2 in France’s 3-1 knockout win over Poland

Doha, Dec 4 (EFE).- Although reigning World Cup champions France prevailed over Poland 3-1 in soccer action at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha on Sunday, they had a rather tough time against the hard-driving Poles, who battled valiantly but fruitlessly trying to avoid being knocked out of further play.

After a tough time in the early going before some 41,000 spectators, Olivier Giroud finally managed to get Les Bleus on the board just one minute before the break on a pass from Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe that he managed to slide right into the corner to beat Polish goaltender Wojciech Szczesny.

The tally was the striker’s 52nd career international goal for his side, breaking Thierry Henry’s record.

Overall, the contest was pretty evenly matched, despite the final score, even though the much improved Poland squad had had difficulties against its group phase opponents, against whom they had played conservative ball, taking few risks.

But in the knockout match, the Poles played aggressively and went all-out for the win.

Robert Lewandowski, who plays for Barcelona, tried a powerful shot on goal in the first half that was saved by French team captain Hugo Lloris, and it wasn’t until the 74th minute that the defending World Cup champs were able to notch their second tally of the evening on a shot by Mbappe that was shunted to him by Giroud and Dembele.

It was Mbappe again in the 91st minute for his fifth tally – and his second double – of this year’s World Cup, a brilliant curling shot into the top corner after a pass from Marcus Thuram for the 3-0.

Lewandowski scored a consolation goal on the very last shot of the match in stoppage time, a penalty kick that he was allowed to repeat because Lloris – who made a good save on the initial lackluster shot – was ruled to have come off his line too early.

France won the World Cup four years ago in Russia, and although in UEFA Nations League action they had seemed to waver, now coach Didier Deschamps seems to have gotten the team back on track, despite being without key midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, as well as Presnel Kimpembe and forward Christopher Nkunku.

Moreover, Karim Benzema, the winner of the 2022 Ballon d’Or, is on the injured list and will not play in Qatar, and defenseman Lucas Hernandez was injured in the debut match this year and is out for the duration.

Because Benzema was out of commission, Deschamps put Giroud into the starting 11 this year, and the AC Milan striker also scored two goals in France’s debut group match, a 4-1 win over Australia.

With the win, however, Poland will have to go home and France will move on the quarterfinals to go up against the winner of the England-Senegal knockout match later on Sunday.

No country has won consecutive World Cups since Brazil did so in 1958 and 1962. Italy had done the same in 1934 and 1938, the only other country ever to repeat.


France: Lloris; Kounde (Disasi, m.92), Varane, Upamecano, Theo Hernandez; Tchouameni (Fofana, m.66), Rabiot; Griezmann; Dembele (Coman, m.76), Giroud (Thuram, m.76), Mbappe Poland: Szczesny; Cash, Glik, Kiwior (Bednarek, m.87), Bereszynski; Krychowiak (Bielik, m.71); Kaminski (Zalewski, m.71), Zielinski, Szymanski (Milik, m.64), Frankowski (Grosicki, m.87); Lewandowski

EFE lmpg/bp

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