Kylian Mbappe was the man of the moment as France defeated a resilient Denmark 2-1 to reach the Round of 16 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup with one game to spare. Les Bleus broke the champions’ curse by reaching the last 16 of the tournament in Qatar.
Having comprehensively defeated Australia in their opener, reigning champions France were faced with a different class of opposition when they came up against the Danes. Denmark had been touted as one of the tournament’s dark horses and looked to pull off an upset.
Denmark started the match in high-octane fashion, chasing down every ball relentlessly as the French looked to be more calculating. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel had the first real piece of goalkeeping to do as he pushed a firm header from Adrien Rabiot to safety in the first half.
The impressive Mbappe was largely involved in everything his side did, and it was only fitting that he opened the scoring. The 23-year-old exchanged passes with Theo Hernandez in the box before firing his effort into the back of the net with the aid of a slight deflection to put the champions ahead after 61 minutes.
The goal seemed to awaken the Danes and they pulled level within minutes after a brief period of sustained pressure. A corner kick from Christian Eriksen was headed on by Joachim Andersen for his defensive partner Andreas Christensen to power home a header from close range in the 68th minute.
It was inevitable at the end and Mbappe was the man who got the winner for his side. The PSG star showed great movement to ghost into space and connect with an inch-perfect cross from Antoine Griezmann in the 86th minute to out the game to bed.
Mbappe has now scored three goals in Qatar and helped Les Bleus to reach the last 16, becoming the first defending champions to make it out of the group stage since Brazil in 2006. After Australia defeated Tunisia earlier in the day, Denmark must now defeat the Socceroos to reach the knockout stage.