France defeated Poland 3-1 on Sunday to advance to the World Cup quarterfinals thanks to goals from Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe.
Early on, Giroud appeared destined to score first as he approached a backpost cross from Ousmane Dembele into an open goal, but he was unable to make it in time. Giroud, however, would not be deterred, putting France in front after 44 minutes with a brilliant turn and strike. It was his 52nd goal for Les Bleus and gave him the opportunity to surpass Thierry Henry as the nation’s all-time leading scorer for men.
With a powerful drive in the 75th minute, Mbappe doubled France’s advantage. He then added a second goal, his fifth of the match, with an unbelievable curling finish into the far top right corner. Robert Lewandowski’s penalty gave Poland a late consolation goal. Lewandowski scored after Poland’s striker missed on his first effort after referee Jesus Valenzuela demanded a second attempt.
The outcome means that France will meet the winners of England and Senegal, who play later on Sunday, in the quarterfinals to begin their World Cup championship defense.
After Mbappe’s initial attempts failed to produce obvious chances, France quickly lost control of the ball and began seeking to open up the Polish defense.
When Piotr Zielenski’s advancing effort was parried by Lloris in the 38th minute, Poland’s patience was almost rewarded. The ball then returned into the midfielder’s direction, but Theo Hernandez blocked his second attempt.
After that, Jakub Kaminski attempted to score, but Raphael Varane blocked his attempt just inside the goal line.
Giroud got the inch of space he needed to flick the ball past Szczesny and score his third goal of the competition after Mbappe attracted the defense to him.
Giroud, 36, had tied Henry for the most goals with 51 after scoring twice in the defending champions’ 4-1 victory against Australia in their opening Group D match. Giroud was scoreless in Russia four years prior.
Mbappe in particular appeared carefree for France, but the striker produced a spine-tingling soaring shot that dipped under the crossbar and then curled another jaw-dropping shot into the top corner one minute into injury time.
With his fourth and fifth goals in Qatar, Mbappe surpassed Lionel Messi of Argentina to become the first player to score nine World Cup goals before turning 24.
Dayot Upamecano’s handball allowed Lewandowski the opportunity to score a consolation goal with a penalty, which Lloris initially saved before being retaken and scoring because the goalie did not have his feet on the line.