Record-setting Giroud, sublime Mbappe send France into q-finals
DOHA – Olivier Giroud set a scoring record for France as he sent Les Bleus on their way to a 3-1 win against Poland in their World Cup last-16 clash on Sunday.
His 52nd international goal came after fellow attacker Kylian Mbappe set him up with a through ball one minute before half-time.
The AC Milan striker proceeded to clip a shot across Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Mbappe then netted a double, taking his Qatar 2022 tally to five goals, before the Poles pulled one back through a retaken Robert Lewandowski penalty.
Giroud, 36, had drawn level with Thierry Henry on 51 goals after bagging a brace in the reigning champions’ 4-1 win over Australia in their opening Group D game.
He broke the record on his 117th appearance for France while Henry netted 51 times from 123 appearances between 1997 and 2010.
Former England defender Rio Ferdinand told the BBC: “You have to have the right attitude to do what Olivier Giroud does, with people saying at times he wasn’t good enough.
“He’s not flashy like a Kylian Mbappe with skills or pace but he knows what he’s good at and he executes it well.”
English Premier League-winning former England striker Chris Sutton added on BBC Radio: “Giroud will be absolutely delighted. He is a brilliant professional.
“France have had some wonderful, wonderful players. To move past Thierry Henry is absolutely amazing. Giroud is such an important, integral part of the team. A wonderful link man and a goalscorer.”
Giroud wasn’t the only French veteran to record a milestone with captain Hugo Lloris winning a record-equalling 142nd cap at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium.
The 35-year-old Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper has matched the record by 1998 World Cup-winning fullback Lilian Thuram.
The man who looks set to eventually surpass Giroud at the top of France’s scoring chart, Mbappe, found the net with a rasping drive from inside the box that gave Szczesny no chance following a counter-attack in the 74th minute.
He added another with an exquisite finish in the first minute of added time, this time curling the ball into the top corner.
The 23-year-old Paris Saint-Germain attacker is the first player in history to score nine World Cup goals before his 24th birthday. He already has 33 goals in 62 international appearances for Les Bleus.
His five goals at Qatar 2022 means he has already surpassed his four-goal tally from France’s title-winning Russia 2018 campaign.
Poland got a late consolation in the ninth minute of added time via the penalty spot thanks to their own record scorer Lewandowski.
The Barcelona striker saw his first spot-kick saved but Lloris was adjudged to have moved off his line and the 34-year-old was more decisive the second time around.
Sutton said on the BBC: “Eventually it came down to Kylian Mbappe and a couple of wonderful finishes from him.
“This was a strong performance from France. There are tougher tests to come but it was a display of French swagger and a statement that we are still the team to beat.”
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