Kylian Mbappe sparkles as France reach World Cup knockout stage with victory over Denmark

World champions ease into Round of 16 as PSG star grabs a double in 2-1 win

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Kylian Mbappe fired France into the last 16 of the World Cup as the defending champions beat Denmark 2-1 in Doha.

France’s star man struck both goals to ensure they will advance to the knockout phase, even before they have to play their final group match against Tunisia.

His goals also moved him to the top of the race for the golden boot, alongside Ecuador’s Enner Valencia, who also has three goals to his name.

Having opened their tournament in free-scoring fashion against Australia last time out, the Danes provided far stouter opposition.

Clear openings were sparse in the first half. The best of them fell France’s way, and usually stemmed from the pace of Ousmane Dembele on their right wing.

Kasper Schmeichel was at full stretch to deny Adrien Rabiot, whose powerful header had seemed destined for the corner of his net. The chance was brought about by a cross from Dembele.

France were in the ascendant at that point, and Denmark were frequently stretched. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg cleared off the line from a Jules Kounde shot, and Schmeichel also used his feet to keep out an angled effort by Antoine Griezmann.

For all France’s control, Denmark could easily have gone into the interval a goal ahead. But Andreas Cornelius fired a shot past Hugo Lloris’s left-hand post after a promising break by the Danes.

Denmark did well to shackle Mbappe during the first phase, but it could not last. Just before the hour mark, he had his first chance to run at the defence.

It ended with him stinging Schmeichel’s fingers with a drive from the edge of the box, as the goalkeeper tipped the ball over.

Shortly after, Griezmann should have done better after manipulating an opening for himself, but he blazed over when centrally placed.

France’s frustration dissipated almost immediately after, though, as Mbappe opened the scoring. After another incisive break through the inside left channel and a clever interchange of passes with Theo Hernandez inside the box, he was able to bundle a shot past Schmeichel.

The lead was short lived. Within seven minutes, Denmark had levelled via a header by Andreas Christensen from a corner.

They might even have wrestled the lead for themselves, had Lloris not been well placed to thwart Jesper Lindstrom.

It was to prove a vital stop, as it meant France were still just a goal away from settling it and sealing progress to the next phase with a game to spare.

So it proved, as Mbappe doubled his tally when he bundled the ball home with his thigh from a curled cross by Griezmann.

The result leaves Denmark precariously placed. They must beat Australia on the final game day in the group if they are to progress through with France.

Updated: November 26, 2022, 6:41 PM