Kylian Mbappe produces moments of magic as France overcome Poland

Kylian Mbappe continued his supreme form in Qatar with a brace and an assist to help France progress to the quarter-finals of the World Cup following a 3-1 victory over Poland.

Mbappe curled up two shots in the last 15 minutes in Doha to seal victory for the holders after Olivier Giroud’s fine lead late in the first half.

Giroud’s impressive 44th-minute finish made him France’s all-time top scorer with 52 goals, overtaking fellow former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry.

Poland had their moments and Robert Lewandowski scored an added-time consolation from the penalty spot for his country, but the night was Mbappé’s.

It was the Paris St Germain forward’s fourth and fifth goals of the tournament that set up the quarter-final against England, who beat Senegal 3-0 on Sunday night.

France coach Didier Deschamps restored his great successes after resting several players for the final Group D match against Tunisia, which ended in a resounding defeat.

Captain Hugo Lloris returned in goal and made a record 142 appearances for his country, but saw most of the early action at Al Thumama Stadium take place at the other end of the pitch.

Kylian Mbappé intervened with two brilliant finals (Luca Bruno/AP/PA)

Raphael Varane headed wide before Kamil Glik was within a whisker of own goal.

Aston Villa defender Matty Cash was tasked with trying to stop Mbappe, who looked in the mood from the start, and Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny had to be careful to deny Aurelien Tchouameni and Ousmane Dembele during the opening exchanges .

Lewandowski was forced to bide his time, but showed his intentions with a fierce left-footed shot midway through the first half that sailed inches wide.

Giroud slid a fine chance wide at the far post shortly afterwards before Poland, who were playing their first World Cup knockout clash in 36 years, enjoyed their best run of the last 16.

France v Poland – 2022 FIFA World Cup – Round of 16 – Al Thumama Stadium

Olivier Giroud became France’s all-time top scorer with his first goal (Peter Byrne/PA)

Lewandowski hit a free kick against the wall and Cash shot wide but the underdogs’ golden opportunity in Doha came with seven minutes remaining in the first half.

Bartosz Bereszynski’s cross found Piotr Zielinski, but he shot straight at Lloris from inside the penalty area and after his next strike was blocked, Jakub Kaminski had his shot deflected off the line by Varane.

With Poland still mulling that moment, France smelled blood and Giroud provided the breakthrough with 44 minutes on the clock.

Mbappe played into the feet of Giroud, who ran away from Przemyslaw Frankowski and drilled into the ground and past Szczesny.

Giroud had the ball in the net again shortly after the break, but the whistle had already blown for a foul on Szczesny, requiring short treatment alongside Cash and Varane for a fixture.

It seemed a matter of time before France moved and Mbappé scored the crucial second goal in the 76th minute.

A pass from Antoine Griezmann turned into a perfect long ball for Giroud, who snatched it from the sky and combined with Dembele.

In a flash Dembele had recycled the ball to Mbappé, who took a touch and mounted a shot on the roof of the net from 16 yards.

The PSG striker’s fifth goal in this World Cup came shortly after.

Substitute Marcus Thuram passed to Mbappe, who got in front of Arkadiusz Milik and opened his body to crouch in the top corner with Szczesny’s hand not strong enough to stop the attempt.

Poland were eliminated, but had the final say when Lewandowski scored from the penalty spot in the ninth minute of stoppage time.

Dayot Upamecano was penalized for handball and Lewandowski had two cherry bites from 12 yards after his first attempt – saved by Lloris – had to be retaken for an infringement as the goalkeeper was just out of his way.

But despite the penalty in the final, it was the evening of France and Mbappé.

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