Yekaterinburg, Russia — Fast, exciting and now the youngest scorer in France’s World Cup history.
Kylian Mbappe is the one.
At 19 years and 183 days, Mbappe became the youngest player to score for France’s national team on soccer’s biggest stage. And his reward was leading his squad into the round of 16 with a 1-0 victory over Peru on Thursday.
“I’ve always said that the World Cup is a dream for any player,” said Mbappe, who was born a few months after France won the 1998 title. “It is a dream come true and I hope I will have more like this.”
With two wins from two matches in Group C, France is through to the next round with a match to spare. Peru was eliminated.
Paul Pogba, one of France’s best players, set up the 34th-minute goal for Mbappe. Pogba beat his defender and passed to Olivier Giroud, who then chipped the ball toward goal for Mbappe to easily tap in past goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
France coach Didier Deschamps made a pair of tactical adjustments after an underwhelming performance in the team’s opening win over Australia. He put Giroud and Blaise Matuidi in the starting lineup but kept the same 4-3-2-1 formation with Giroud up front.
Both used their speed and passing to expose gaps in Peru’s backline.
Paolo Guerrero started for Peru after coming off the bench in the opening loss to Denmark. He came out with energy, but he cooled down after receiving a yellow card in the 23rd minute.
Guerrero nearly missed the World Cup before his doping ban was lifted by a Swiss judge prior to the tournament. France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was one of three opposing captains, along with Australia’s Mile Jedinak and Denmark’s Simon Kjaer, who signed a letter to FIFA supporting the lifting of the ban.
Guerrero had one of Peru’s best chances in the 87th minute from a free kick, but his attempt went right at Lloris.
Croatia 3, Argentina 0: At Nizhny Novgorod, Lionel Messi and his Argentina teammates are on the verge of World Cup elimination. Croatia is moving on. Argentina’s loss makes advancement very difficult with only one group match remaining. It was Argentina’s worst loss in group play in 60 years.
Messi, who turns 31 on Sunday, failed to get even one shot off against Croatia on Thursday, five days after he missed a penalty in the team’s opening 1-1 draw against Iceland.
Croatia frustrated Argentina throughout the match and never gave Messi space to operate.
The humiliating loss came in humiliating fashion for one of soccer’s most storied nations.
Argentina goalkeeper Wilfredo Caballero miss-kicked a clearance and Croatia defender Ante Rebic recovered the ball before sending it into the net in the 53rd minute.
Luka Modric scored another with a hooking shot in the 80th and Ivan Rakitic added the third in stoppage time.
Australia 1, Denmark 1: At Samara, Mile Jedinak’s penalty kick gave Australia the draw. Christian Eriksen scored in the opening minutes for Denmark, which has gone unbeaten in 17 straight international matches. But Jussuf Poulsen’s handball after a video review set up Jedinak’s opportunity in the 38th minute.
Going into the tournament, No. 36 Australia was the lowest-ranked team in Group C with the others all in the top 12.
With a loss to France in the opener, a defeat Thursday would have made it nearly impossible for the Socceroos to advance.
Denmark 1, Australia 1
France 1, Peru 0
Croatia 3, Argentina 0
Brazil vs. Costa Rica, 8 a.m. (FS1)
Nigeria vs. Iceland, 11 a.m. (Fox)
Serbia vs. Switzerland, 2 p.m. (Fox)
Belgium vs. Tunisia, 8 a.m. (Fox)
Korea vs. Mexico, 11 a..m. (Fox)
Germany vs. Sweden, 2 p.m. (Fox)