Kylian Mbappe steals the show, runs Argentina ragged as France shift into gear

Kylian Mbappe and France finally announced themselves at this summer's World Cup in style with a thrilling 4-3 win over Argentina in Kazan.

The Paris Saint-Germain star scored two second-half goals as Didier Deschamps' men fought back from 2-1 down shortly after the break.

Antoine Griezmann's first-half penalty, won by Mbappe, opened the scoring, before Angel Di Maria's stunning equaliser minutes before half time.

The South Americans temporarily led through Gabriel Mercado, but Benjamin Pavard's heroic leveller was followed by an Mbappe double in a three-goal, 11-minute spell and not even a late Sergio Aguero header could stop Les Bleus.


Plenty was expected of Mbappe and France pre-World Cup and finally, after three tedious Group C matches, the PSG man helped the French finally show their true colours. A constant menace to the Argentina defence with his searing pace, the 19-year-old scored twice in less than five second- half minutes.

Although it might have been Mbappe scoring the goals, the former Monaco man's goals illustrated France's impressive show of character. Having looked devoid of it over most of the three opening matches in Russia, Didier Deschamps' men finally showed how formidable they can be.

Ultimately, and despite a scare, the French advance and that looked far from guaranteed when Mercado made it 2-1 to Argentina early in the second half. Uruguay or Portugal both promise to be tougher opponents than Jorge Sampaoli's troops, though.


Questions can be asked of a few players at various points during the game, but the biggest question concerns everybody -- why did it require falling behind for France to finally go up the gear that we knew all along that they had in them?

Manager rating out of 10

6 -- Deschamps' decision to go 4-2-3-1 and include players like Olivier Giroud and Blaise Matuidi looked like it might blow up in his face at 2-1 down just minutes into the second half. Around 20 minutes later, and having made no substitutions, the French tactician was laughing at his doubters.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Hugo Lloris (c), 5 -- Given little chance on any of Argentina's goals by his teammates, particularly Di Maria's thunderbolt, there was not much else for him to do.

DF Benjamin Pavard, 7 -- Provided the turning point of the match with his stunning equaliser and although he was booked towards the end, he also made some important defensive contributions.

DF Raphael Varane, 6 -- Guilty on Aguero's goal late on, he was otherwise solid. That said, the defence, generally, could have done more to keep Di Maria and Mercado's goals out.

DF Samuel Umtiti, 6 -- He paired well with Varane in the middle and both kept their cool as Argentina tried to turn up the pressure late on.

DF Lucas Hernandez, 6 -- Kept Argentina's right side more or less quiet and when needed, he chipped in going forward and teed up Pavard's brilliant and influential leveller.

MF N'Golo Kante, 7 -- He was instrumental in numbing the threat of Argentina's midfield, who were unable to locate Messi as often as they needed to. It was often Kante or Blaise Matuidi closest to the Barcelona legend and it was further evidence as to why the Chelsea man has been indispensable thus far.

MF Paul Pogba, 7 -- After a nervy start, he grew into the match and set Mbappe up with brilliant pass inside the opening 20 minutes. He was also key in feeding Hernandez in the build-up to France's third goal.

MF Antoine Griezmann, 7 -- Unlucky with an early free kick that hit the woodwork, he did not have to wait much longer to score. He was composed from the penalty spot and got stuck in defensively too. Much, much better from the Atletico Madrid man.

FW Kylian Mbappe, 9 -- Sensational. Still only 19 years old, he scored two goals and was involved in the penalty decision that saw Griezmann open the scoring. A constant threat to the Argentinians, Mbappe announced his true arrival at this World Cup with this showing.

FW Blaise Matuidi, 7 -- Along with Kante, he played an important role in keeping Messi quiet and put in another excellent shift on the left. Booked late on, he worked tirelessly for the team until he was substituted. Will miss the next match.

FW Olivier Giroud, 5 -- An assist on Mbappe's second goal and a late booking in what was not his best French showing. However, he is still vital to Deschamps' plans and contributed once again as the focal point of the attack.


MF Corentin Tolisso, N/R -- Sent on for the final 15 minutes to give Matuidi a breather, he enabled Deschamps to start moving towards a 4-3-3 formation for the remainder of the game.

FW Nabil Fekir, N/R -- Given seven minutes in Griezmann's place at the end, he slotted into a front three as Tolisso settled into the central midfield alongside Kante and Pogba.

FW Florian Thauvin, N/R -- Introduced in the last minute of the 90 for Mbappe, it was deserved recognition, and his first taste of World Cup action. He will be keen for more in the future to allow him to show what he can do.