Argentina was knocked out of World Cup by France in the first of the last-16 matches with a 4-3 win in a thriller at Kazan Arena on Saturday.
The young Monaco forward Kylian Mbappe (pictured) scored two second-half goals and earned another in the first half while Benjamin Pavard’s classy goal came at a time when Argentina was gaining ground with a 2-1 lead. Argentina’s third goal came too late to try for an equaliser.
Fans were expecting Lionel Messi’s comeback with an inspiring show for Argentina. But it was teenager Mbappe who won their hearts with his wonderful pace which unnerved Argentina’s defenders.
Argentina had a bad start as Antoine Griezmann converted a penalty for France in the 11th minute. Mbappe laid the groundwork for that with an incredible run from his own side beating a few Argentinian defenders before Rojo brought him down. Griezmann sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and drove it home.
Stung by the early goal, Argentina unleashed waves of attacks on the French goalmouth but they could not find the equaliser. Finally, it came unexpectedly in the 41th minute. An unmarked and well-positioned Angel Di Maria collected the ball 25 yards out mid-field and sent a shot, a real pearler, which curled into the top corner beyond the reach of the goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Argentina was one up in the 48th minute after Gabriel Mercado tapped Messi’s shot past Lloris.
The course of the game changed in the 57th minute when France found the equaliser. Defender Benjamin Pavard advanced into Argentina’s half and sent a powerful half-volley racing into the net.
The equaliser energised France and Mbappe struck in the 64th and 68th minute.
In the 93rd minute, Messi sent a pointed cross to Sergio Aguero who headed it home.
Argentina was looking for the equaliser before the final whistle.