In the end, Argentina just did not have enough even with Lionel Messi. Two goals in the first half were followed by five in the second as France, with a brace from 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe took Les Bleus through to the quarterfinal. The PSG teenager was a constant threat, winning a penalty and scoring twice while Messi continued his record of not scoring in the second round of the World Cup.
France kicked off with Argentina starting Lionel Messi as the central striker with the licence to roam. Gonzalo Higuain was dropped and Cristian Pavon came in. Kylian Mbappe showed his speed to the Argentines and was taken out by Javier Mascherano as he approached the box. Antoine Griezmann stepped up and struck the crossbar.
On 11 minutes, Mbappe won the ball deep in France half and took off. He sprinted past Mascherano, Nicolas Otamendi before Marcos Rojo hauled him down in the box. Clear penalty. Griezmann stepped up and sent Franco Armani the wrong way.
Seven minutes later, Nicolas Tagliafico fouled Mbappe on the edge of the box after Pogba found the 19-year-old with a quick free kick. The free kick was blazed over by Pogba. Griezmann had a run into the box but his cutback was straight at Armani. Tagliafico had to be 100% accurate with a tackle on Mbappe in the 30th minute. Things got a little tasty on 32 minutes as Mascherano flew into Pogba after the French midfielder had dispossessed Messi.
Angel Di Maria then scored a contender for goal of the tournament when he let fly from 31 yards after he was not closed down. That was on 41 minutes and it was Argentina’s first shot on target. Mascherano was finally shown a yellow card on 42 minutes for a diving challenge on N’Golo Kante. Argentina were now having more joy with the ball and were pushing France back.
Federico Fazio replaced Rojo at the start of the second stanza and just three minutes into the second stanza, Argentina were ahead.
From a free kick, the ball was half-cleared and fell to Messi., who swiveled and shot at goal with Lloris well placed but the ball hits Mercado and wrong-footed the French goalkeeper. Fazio then almost gifted Griezmann a goal on 56 minutes but the path to goal was quickly closed.
France were on level terms in the 57th minute when a cross from France’s left back, Lucas Hernandez, found its way to his right back, Benjamin Pavard, who hammered a swerving shot past Armani.
Mbappe pounced on a loose ball in the Argentina box in the 64th minute, twisted and powered a left-footer under Armani to give France the lead once again.
France’s fourth goal was a classic team move that started from the Goalkeeper, Lloris to Kante to Griezmann to Blaise Matuidi, who laid on to Giroud, who passed into Mbappe’s path and the teenager passed it past Armani. What a goal!
Sergio Aguero, on as a substitute got Argentina’s third in the second minute of added time from a Messi cross but it was too late for the two-time winners. The questions will continue for Messi.