QATAR: With a convincing 3-1 victory over Poland on Sunday, France qualified for the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe.
When Giroud arrived to tap in a back post cross from Ousmane Dembele into an open goal, he appeared to score immediately, but he could not do so in time.
However, Giroud was unstoppable, scoring his 52nd goal for Les Bleus and moving ahead of Thierry Henry to become the country’s all-time leading scorer for men’s soccer with a superb turn and shot in the 44th minute.
With a powerful strike in the 75th minute, Mbappe doubled France’s lead before adding another with a sensational curling goal into the far top-right corner, his fifth goal of the tournament.
Robert Lewandowski’s penalty gave Poland a late consolation goal. The striker missed his first attempt, but referee Jesus Valenzuela deemed the penalty illegitimate, and Lewandowski scored on the second attempt.
As a result, France will now face England in the quarterfinals of the World Cup, who defeated Senegal 3-0 in the final game on Sunday.
After Mbappe’s initial forays failed to produce clear chances, France gave up possession after a dominant start and looked to create opportunities by making space in the Polish defence.
When Lloris parried Piotr Zielinski’s shot in the 38th minute, Poland’s poise was close to being rewarded. After that, it came back into the midfielder’s path, but Theo Hernandez stopped his second attempt.
Following Jakub Kaminski, Raphael Varane saved Jakub Kaminski’s shot close to the goal line.
France’s strategies paid off one minute after the break when Mbappe drew the defence to him and passed the ball to Giroud. Giroud used every inch of space he had to get the ball past Szczesny and score his third tournament goal.
After scoring twice in the defending champions’ 4-1 victory over Australia in their first Group D match, the 36-year-old Giroud, unable to score in Russia four years ago, now has 51 goals, matching Henry’s total.
Even though Mbappe and France appeared casual, the forward scored with an enthralling rising shot that went under the bar one minute into the injury time before hitting another jaw-dropping shot into the top corner.
Kylian Mbappe, at 24, became the youngest player to score nine World Cup goals, surpassing Lionel Messi of Argentina with his fourth and fifth goals in Qatar.