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Mbappé fires France into knockout rounds

Publish on 21/06/2018 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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Paris Saint-Germain prodigy Kylian Mbappé struck as France beat Peru 1-0 to secure a place in the round of 16, leaving Didier Deschamps' men needing just a draw in their final game against Denmark to secure top spot in Group C.

Thursday, 21 June, 2018

FIFA World Cup, Group C, Matchday 2

Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg

France 1 - 0 Peru

THE MATCH

France went in Thursday's clash with Peru looking to lift their game after a narrow 2-1 win over Australia in their first match, but although Deschamps' men managed to clinch another win to guarantee them of a place in the knockout rounds, they had to endure some nervy moments against a valiant Peru side fighting for their World Cup survival.

In fact, the first big chance of the match fell to Peruvian captain Paolo Guerrero, who drew a fine save from Hugo Lloris after beating Samuel Umtiti. But France went into the break in front after Paul Pogba, who shone in midfield alongside workhorse N'Golo Kanté, played Olivier Giroud into the area with a superb through-ball.

Mbappé does the job

The Chelsea hit-man's powerful effort was parried by Peruvian 'keeper Pedro Gallese, but the mercurial Mbappé followed up well and had the simplest of tap-ins to score what turned out to be the winner (34'). 

Peru's forwards began to make more of an impression in the second half, and the South Americans went within millimetres of getting back on level terms when Aquino unleashed a thunderbolt that threatened to break Hugo Lloris' post (50').

However, despite again not managing to produce the kind of fluid attacking display Deschamps' side became known for in qualifying, France held out for the win, assuring themselves of a place in the knockout rounds at the same time as eliminating Peru. France can secure top spot in the group with a draw against Denmark in their final match, on Tuesday, 26 June.

THE PLAYER: Paul Pogba

The Manchester United midfielder came into the tournament with some question marks concerning his form, but his deep-lying creative play not only led to Mbappé's goal but a number of other clear-cut chances for Giroud and Antoine Griezmann. Pogba will doubtless play a key role if France are to live up to their pre-tournament billing.

THE STAT: 8

France are now unbeaten in eight World Cup matches against South American opposition (four wins, four draws) - good for the confidence should Les Bleus come up against the likes of Argentina or Brazil as the tournament progresses.