Kylian Mbappe crowned an exhilarating individual performance with two second-half goals to make champions France the first side into the last 16 of the World Cup as they beat Denmark 2-1 in their Group D clash at the 974 Stadium on Saturday.
Mbappe’s goals sent France top the group on six points, three ahead of Australia, who beat Tunisia 1-0 earlier in the day, with the Danes and the Tunisians both on one point.
“The first objective has been achieved,” French coach Didier Deschamps said of their qualification in a post-match TV interview.
France take on Tunisia and Denmark meet Socceroos in the final round on Wednesday, with the Danes needing a win to advance.
The first half saw France enjoy the better chances as Adrien Rabiot went close with a header and Denmark were forced into a number of last-ditch blocks, but the Danes did go close with an Andreas Cornelius shot that flew just wide.
Their defensive resilience was not to last and Mbappe put the French ahead in the 61st minute, crowning a superb high-speed French counter with a bouncing first-time finish from Theo Hernandez‘s clever pull-back.
Always a danger from set pieces, defender Andreas Christensen put the Danes level seven minutes later, stealing in behind the defence and stooping to head home with Denmark’s first effort on target.
The game looked set to end in a stalemate until Mbappe popped up in the 86th minute at the far post to cushion home an Antoine Griezmann cross from close range to restore the lead to send the travelling French fans into raptures.
He has the ability to be decisive, to stand out from the crowd and make a difference in games,” Deschamps said of his goal-poaching star.
“We are very competitive and there is a great team spirit, both on and off the pitch, and we’ll need that for what is waiting ahead,” Deschamps said.