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Three things we learned from the World Cup today

July 1, 2018 1:26 AM
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SAINT PETERSBURG: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were sent packing from the World Cup on Saturday as French wonderkid Kylian Mbappe made his case to follow in their footsteps as a Ballon d'Or contender.

Mbappe scored twice as France edged a World Cup classic 4-3 thriller over Argentina to possibly end Messi's last attempt to win a major international trophy.

Ronaldo will also miss out on the Golden Boot as he couldn't breakthrough Uruguay's solid defence as the South Americans' prevailed 2-1 in Sochi.

Here, AFP Sports looks at three things we learned today at the World Cup.

After three ponderous group games, France's World Cup needed a spark and Mbappe provided it in style.

He became the first teenager to score twice in a single game at the World Cup since Pele in 1958 as his quick-fire double blew away Argentina in a seven-goal thriller in Kazan.

This was a statement performance from the man who cost Paris Saint-Germain €180 million (RM849 million) last year and has long been circled as a future star.

There were the two smart finishes, not to mention a storming run that earned France a penalty for Antoine Griezmann's opener.

In the 31-year-old Messi, one extraordinary talent bowed out of perhaps his last World Cup. In Mbappe, another announced his arrival in style.

Not to be outdone by his club team-mate Mbappe, Edinson Cavani produced two stunning finishes of his own to beat European champions Portugal.

Cavani tapped home from close range into an empty net to seal a 3-0 win over Russia to cap a perfect group stage for Uruguay.

However scrappy a finish, the confidence of getting off the mark transformed Cavani from a striker struggling for form in the first three games in Russia back into the man that netted 40 times for PSG this season.

He started and ended the move that put Uruguay into an early lead by powering home Luis Suarez's cross on seven minutes and won the game with an even better curling effort from 20 yards.

Cavani hobbled off injured 15 minutes from time in Sochi, but providing his fitness isn't in doubt for the last eight meeting with France on Friday, Uruguay are emerging as contenders.

Despite conceding for the first time in Russia, the best defence in the competition, led by Atletico Madrid duo Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez, kept Ronaldo quiet.

Godin and Gimenez will know better than most how to muzzle club team-mate Griezmann and won't allow Mbappe the space in behind to use his devastating pace like Argentina did.


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