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France break ‘champions curse’ as Kylian Mbappe sends them into the next round

France break ‘champions curse’ as Kylian Mbappe sends them into the next round

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Doha — Kylian Mbappe scored twice to send champions France into the last 16 of the World Cup as they beat Denmark 2-1 in their Group D clash at the 974 Stadium on Saturday, making them the first side to qualify for the knockout stage.

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France top the group on six points, three ahead of Australia, who beat Tunisia 1-0 earlier in the day, with the Danes and the Tunisians both on one point.

France take on Tunisia and Denmark meet the Socceroos in the final round on Wednesday.

A tight, tense first half saw France enjoy the better chances as Adrien Rabiot went close with a header and the Danes were forced into a number of last-ditch blocks to keep their clean sheet intact.

It was not to last and Mbappe put the French ahead in the 61st minute, crowning a high-speed French counter with a bouncing first-time finish from Theo Hernandez's clever pull-back.

Always a danger from set pieces, Andreas Christensen put the Danes level seven minutes later, stealing in behind the defence and stooping to head home.

Neither side seemed content with a draw and Rabiot fired a spectacular volley over in the 80th minute, and a minute later substitute Martin Braithwaite fired a first-time effort of his own just wide of the near post.

The game looked set to end in a stalemate until Mbappe popped up in the 86th minute at the far post to cushion home an Antoine Griezmann cross from close range to restore the lead to send the travelling French fans into raptures.

Denmark threw everything forward looking for a second equaliser, leaving acres of space at the back, but their late attacks against a side they beat twice in the recent Nations League campaign lacked precision and the French held on for the win that put them through.

Reuters

Original Article

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