France fell behind 2-1 in the early moments of the second half before scoring three second half goals to escape with a 4-3 win over Argentina.
France is now in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
The Guardians Jonathan Wilson:” Dreams can endure only so long before they are overwhelmed by reality – and there are few realities quite so brutally uncompromising as the pace and finishing of Kylian Mbappé, who scored twice and won a penalty in France’s 4-3 win.
After a grim trudge through the group stage, France, finally, are off and running and looking like potential champions. Lionel Messi, for all the hopes freighting his slight frame, will not be winning the World Cup this time.
Quite how Argentina have ended up as this strange botch-job of parts that don’t quite fit together, bound together by nothing more than the magic of Messi, is a question that cannot straightforwardly be answered but the fact is they are and, as such, were never likely to survive a meeting with a side that looked into their eyes and wasn’t cowed by their self-romanticising will to progress.
That will, though, remains ferociously strong. Until the midpoint of the second half, when they opened up a two-goal lead, the game was underpinned by the question of how France didn’t already have it won.
There had been talk of conjuring the repeat of 1990 when defeat to Cameroon inspired a defiant spirit that carried Argentina to the final and in some of the cruder challenges, it felt Argentina may be following the template rather too closely. But the difference between then and now is that that team could actually defend; this side can merely struggle.
The deployment of Messi as a false nine as Jorge Sampaoli, or whichever cabal of senior players picks the side these days, opted for a fourth different formation in four games, served only to deny the wide men a target when they got the ball in crossing positions.
Certainly it did nothing to add a defensive stability. Is all very well to play, as Sampaoli promised they would, with a knife between their teeth, but only if you can actually catch your opponents to use it. Argentina’s lack of pace is a problem that will never easily be resolved, and certainly not by playing the sort of high line they attempted early on. Perhaps Didier Deschamps’s France have become a fluent attacking unit; perhaps Argentina just made them appear so.
Thirteen minutes had gone when Ever Banega miscontrolled 30 yards from the French goal, allowing Mbappé to burst forwards. Nobody came close to catching him until Marcos Rojo hauled him down. Antoine Griezmann, who had already pinged a free-kick against the bar, rolled in the penalty. Six minutes later, Mbappé’s pace almost undid them again as he raced onto a quickly-taken Pogba free-kick and was tripped on the edge of the box by Nicolás Tagliafico, who was perhaps fortunate to receive only a yellow card. For them to play so high with defenders so slow against an attack so quick seemed mystifying.
Having scored one brilliant goal, Argentina, as they had against Nigeria, then added a second with the least implausible body-part available to them, as Messi’s ball back into the middle was deflected in by the left foot of Gabriel Mercado. Could they cling on? They could not, and didn’t even come close.
It took just nine minutes for Benjamin Pavard to conjure a goal the equal of Di María’s, cuffing a volley from the edge of the box into the top corner. Seven minutes after Argentina were cut apart on their right once again – the full-back areas have been a major problem all tournament. Lucas Hernández’s cross fell for Mbappé and he turned sharply to score again. As Argentina chased, the gaps simply grew wider and, from Olivier Giroud’s touch, Mbappé capitalised again. At 19, he is already a wonderfully efficient footballer.
Yet still Argentina were not quite finished, Sergio Agüero heading in a late third. From the grave, the hand thrust up through the soil, but it got no further. Argentina at last were done.
Deschamps’s side has been criticised for its ungainliness and its caution, for being too much about substance and not enough about style. On the day he became the longest-serving manager in France’s history, Deschamps could perhaps reflect that a little planning and a little stodge goes a lot further than a slow and shambolic defence and a nostalgic faith in a bastard spirit.
Uruguay defeated Portugal 2-1.
ESPN:” Two goals from Edinson Cavani earned Uruguay a place in the World Cup quarterfinals as they ended the dreams of Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal with a 2-1 win in Sochi.
Cavani headed home before the break and, soon after Pepe had headed a second-half equaliser, scored the winner with a superb curling shot.
Portugal had been first to threaten, Joao Mario getting down the left and crossing to the far post where Bernardo Silva could not steer his header on target.
With six minutes gone, Bernardo Silva made progress down the other flank and laid the ball off to Ronaldo, who blasted a first-time effort straight at keeper Fernando Muslera.
But a minute later, Uruguay led when Cavani and Luis Suarez combined in style, Cavani’s pass finding Suarez and his cross converted by the striker at the far post, the ball seeming to go in off his face.
At the other end, Jose Fonte steered a downward header across goal and behind, although he appeared to be fouling defender Matias Vecino, and at the other end Suarez saw a cross deflected over after another sharp run had created danger.
Back came Portugal but, after a good spell of pressure, Joao Mario’s cross was too deep for Ronaldo and Muslera claimed.
Bernardo Silva and Goncalo Guedes then combined well but the latter’s cross was headed clear before it could reach Ronaldo.
As play switched to the other end, Fonte brought down Suarez for a dangerous 25-yard free kick and the forward’s low shot was well saved by Rui Patricio.
Ricardo Carvalho’s free kick eluded both Ronaldo and Fonte, with the half-hour approaching and Portugal yet to create a clear-cut chance.
Ronaldo then had an opening when Rodrigo Bentancur conceded a free kick for a foul on Guedes 25 yards out, only to blast his effort into the wall.
Martin Caceres and Nahitan Nandez combined to create a chance but the move ended when Cavani was unable to control an awkwardly-bouncing ball, and with five minutes remaining until the break Joao Mario made a promising run down the left only to slip.
In the final moments of the half, with Suarez down following a challenge from Raphael Guerreiro, Portugal won a corner that came to nothing before a half-chance was steered wide by Cavani at the far post.
Diego Godin cleared as Joao Mario sent in the first cross of the second half, and Ricardo put in another that was dealt with by Godin before it could find the waiting Ronaldo.
Guerreiro fired over from the edge of the box after a corner had fallen to him, and then Ronaldo laid the ball back to Adrien Silva, whose shot was deflected behind for a 55th-minute corner.
From it, Portugal were level as Pepe stormed in to head home from Guerreiro’s delivery and grab the goal that they had increasingly threatened since the break.
But parity did not last long, Cavani steering a brilliant curling finish into the corner after 62 minutes following Bentancur’s beautifully-weighted pass into his path.
Cristian Rodriguez came on for Bentancur as Uruguay made the first change, Portugal taking off Adrien Silva and bringing on Ricardo Quaresma soon afterwards.
With 20 minutes remaining, Bernardo Silva hooked over after Muslera had failed to hold a ball in the area under pressure, and then a Ronaldo strike from outside the box came back off a defender.
Guedes made way for Andre Silva and goal hero Cavani, limping after a knock, was replaced by Cristhian Stuani befoe Guerreiro sent another effort over as the game entered its final quarter of an hour.
Bernardo Silva drove in a low cross that deflected over as Portugal began to run out of time, and then Nandez was replaced by Carlos Sanchez for Uruguay.
Quaresma bent a cross towards Ronaldo, but just over him, and Bernardo Silva’s low ball in was cleared before Manuel Fernandes came on for Portugal in place of Joao Mario.
Ronaldo sliced another attempt wide and was booked for protesting after the referee declined to give a foul on Quaresma — but neither he nor Portugal could find a way through in four minutes of stoppage time as Uruguay held on to their lead to set up a quarterfinal against France on Friday.