Superstar Kylian Mbappé led the defending champions France as the first team to the round of 16. The most expensive footballer in the world scored both goals in the 2-1 (0-0) win against Denmark at the 974 Stadium (61st/86th) – despite the second win, France still has room for improvement.

    The disciplined but offensively harmless Danes must defeat Australia on the last day of group play to have a chance of reaching the knockout stage. Andreas Christensen (68th) had equalized in the meantime. The injury-plagued French may consider resting some top stars against Tunisia on Wednesday.

    It is questionable whether this World Cup can still become the tournament for Bayern professionals. Lucas Hernández tore his cruciate ligament in the opening game against Australia (4-1), coach Didier Deschamps changed three of the four positions in his defense chain – this meant that right-back Benjamin Pavard was on the bench, as was offensive man Kingsley Coman. After all: The stable pillar on the defensive is Dayot Upamecano. So one Bayern player was left.

    Referee shows mercy with Christensen

    Denmark started well, led by Christian Eriksen, but then France took control. Mbappé might have been up and away when he sprinted furiously – Christensen tugged at his jersey and was lucky with the yellow card that other players could (theoretically) have intervened. A cross from the very conspicuous Dembélé followed to Adrien Rabiot, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel saved.

    Finishes with more than mere hope remained rare until Jules Kounde (30th) and Griezmann (32nd) became more dangerous. Mbappé shot well over the goal from eleven meters (41st). From Denmark, who had defeated France twice in the Nations League this year, there were no shots at all – not even towards the goal. Andreas Cornelius changed that with an even decent opportunity (36′).

    Mbappé shot Giroud on the other side (45 + 3), Denmark at least achieved the intermediate goal of taking the steam out of the French attack vortex.

    Denmark after 1-1 with the upper hand – but then comes Mbappé

    Christensen tormented Mbappé and became increasingly annoying to the superstar, who nevertheless started a solo (56th). At the right moment, however, Mbappé escaped and pushed the ball into the goal after the best French attack.

    France’s record goalscorer Giroud, on the other hand – with the exception of a header in the first half – was sidelined until he was substituted by the Gladbach Bundesliga professional Marcus Thuram. The entry of Martin Braithwaite for Cornelius revived the Danish attack, but the equalizer was reserved for Christensen from an Eriksen corner.

    Denmark suddenly pressed – and had the lead through Frankfurt’s Jesper Lindström (73rd) and Braithwaite (81st). But Mbappé struck again, and his third goal of the tournament put him at the top of the scoring list alongside Ecuador’s Enner Valencia.

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