France’s forward Kylian Mbappe (C) celebrates after scoring their third goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match between France and Argentina at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 30, 2018. FRANCK FIFE / AFP
In the first match of the Round of 16 encounters at the ongoing 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, France defeated Argentina 4-3 in a spectacular game to match their achievement from four years ago, and book a place in the quarter-finals.Proceedings began at a frenetic pace, with not even 10 minutes played when Antoine Griezmann curled a free-kick against the crossbar after Kylian Mbappe had been fouled.
A few minutes later Mbappe was again brought down, this time in the penalty area, and Greizmann made no mistake from the spot. Argentina needed a spell of possessions to compose themselves and digest going behind.
They also needed something special to get back into the game, and Angel Di Maria provided it with a stunning long-range strike to bring them level, against the run of play, before the interval.
Buoyed by that equaliser, the South Americans turned the game on its head in the second period. Lionel Messi collected the ball after a free-kick was only half-cleared, and his shot on the turn was diverted into the net by Gabriel Mercado.
Les Bleus did not need to wait long to provide the perfect response to going behind, however. Benjamin Pavard scored a wonder goal of his own to make it 2-2, before the irrepressible Mbappe scored twice in four minutes. Argentina replied yet again late on through substitute Sergio Aguero, but it was too little, too late for the South Americans.
In the second match of the day, Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani scored a superb brace to give his side a 2-1 win over European champions, Portugal.Uruguay’s victory earned them a quarter-final ticket against France on Friday and sent world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo home after a subdued performance.Cavani put Uruguay ahead in the seventh minute when he evaded the Portugal defence to meet Luis Suarez’s pinpoint cross with a bullet header at the far post.
Pepe headed Portugal level in the 55th minute, the first goal Uruguay have conceded in the tournament.But Uruguay regained the lead seven minutes later when Rodrigo Bentancur found Cavani and he curled a brilliant first-time shot past Rui Patricio from the edge of the penalty area.Portugal’s loss means there will be no quarter-final showdown between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.