France 4, Argentina 3
With Lionel Messi out of the tournament, the World Cup has a new star.
Kylian Mbappe, only 19 and one of the youngest players at the tournament, scored two goals in a five-minute span of the second half to lead France over Argentina 4-3 Saturday in Kazan, Russia and into the World Cup quarterfinals.
Messi, at 31 and playing in his fourth and possibly final World Cup, set up two goals but again failed to score in a knockout match at the biggest event in soccer.
Mbappe was a constant threat to Argentina’s creaking defense with his speed and skill and was at the heart of France’s often-breathtaking display, particularly in the middle of the second half.
He became the second teenager to score multiple goals in a knockout match at the World Cup. Pele was the other, doing it twice at 17 at the 1958 World Cup.
“It is flattering to be the second one after Pele but let’s put things in context. Pele is another category,” Mbappe said. “But it’s good to be among the players to score in knockout matches.”
With the score 2-2, Mbappe got his first goal with a cool finish from a tight angle in the 64th minute, his low shot going under Argentina goalkeeper Franco Armani. Four minutes later, he slotted past Armani again after he was put through on goal by a deft pass from Oliver Giroud.
Mbappe also helped France to its first goal. Following a sustained period of early pressure, he won a penalty after a 40-meter burst of speed that ended with him being brought down by Marcos Rojo. Antoine Griezmann then scored from the spot in the 13th minute, sending Armani the wrong way.
“Of course, as I’ve already and always said, in the World Cup you have all the top level players so it is an opportunity to show what you c`an do and what your abilities are,” Mbappe said. “There is no better place than a World Cup.”
France reached the quarterfinals at consecutive World Cups for the first time.
Mbappe was born a few months after France won the 1998 World Cup at home, its only title at the tournament.
France will next face Uruguay in the quarterfinals on Friday in Nizhny Novgorod. Blaise Matuidi will miss the match after receiving a second yellow card of the tournament.
Uruguay 2, Portugal 1
Edinson Cavani upstaged Cristiano Ronaldo, first with his head and then with his right foot, and sent Uruguay to the World Cup quarterfinals.
Cavani scored twice and Ronaldo none Saturday to give Uruguay the victory over Portugal in Sochi, Russia.
On the same day Lionel Messi was sent home in Argentina’s loss, the other “GOAT” at this tournament was also eliminated. It was two weeks ago that Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the same stadium against Spain, stroking his chin after the first goal to imply he was the “greatest of all time.”
There was no goal from Ronaldo this time. Everywhere he went, the Portugal great was hounded by two or three Uruguayan defenders.
“We had our chances, but this is football,” Ronaldo said. “We have to keep our heads high. We gave our best. The team played well. As the team captain I am proud of this group. Everyone worked hard to make sure things went well.”
It was Cavani who instead took the spotlight. He combined with Luis Suarez to complete a series of precision passes to give Uruguay the early advantage with a header in the seventh minute. And after Portugal equalized on Pepe’s header in the 55th minute, it was Cavani again finishing a perfect Uruguay counter in the 62nd with a shot from just inside the penalty area that caught Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio slightly out of position and curled inside the far post.
“The truth is, it was really exciting,” Cavani said. “There aren’t words to describe this.”
Cavani now has three goals at the World Cup, but limped off in the 70th minute with an apparent injury and had to be replaced. He was helped to the sideline with his arm around Ronaldo’s back.
“Right now we are only worried, but we don’t know how grave this injury is,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said.
World Cup Soccer: Kylian Mbappe, not Lionel Messi, stars as France beats Argentina 4-3; Edinson Cavani scores twice, Uruguay ousts Ronaldo and Portugal 2-1
France 4, Argentina 3