Kylian Mbappe hits late winner to secure narrow France win over Croatia

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Substitute Paul Pogba produced a piece of magic to help prepare Kylian Mbappe for the France winner in a 2-1 win over Croatia.

The Blues started with real intensity and scored an early goal thanks to Antoine Griezmann’s powerful point-blank finish. Croatia let him loose in the area and he leapt up after Ferland Mendy’s cross was only half clear.

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Seven minutes later, it really should have been two. Mbappe and Anthony Martial easily got behind the home defense, but the former missed the goal with the gaping goal after a brilliant double in the box.

French striker Antoine Griezmann (L) vies for the ball with Croatian midfielder Luka Modric

Image Credit: Getty Images

Martial felt aggrieved when the referee rescinded his penalty claims in the 19th minute. Domagoj Vida appeared to drop him as he was about to shoot; if VAR were available, the result would surely have been different.

As the half progressed, the hosts developed into the game. France’s narrow midfielder diamond left a wide gap and Croatia’s best chance went to Mario Pasalic. The ex-Chelsea man couldn’t guide a shot towards goal in a crowded area.

France received a warning from Ivan Perisic immediately after the break, when he shot a cross from the signing to no avail. The introduction of Mateo Kovacic also made a real difference.

Five minutes past the hour Croatia struck via the guided finish of Nikola Vlasic. Hugo Lloris had no chance of stopping him; France needed to regroup.

Pogba was quickly introduced and had a real impact. First, he saw a shot saved by Dominik Livakovic before choosing Lucas Digne with a magnificent pass before the full back passed to Mbappe, who broke the hearts of the Croats like he did in the final of the World Cup two years ago.

TALKING POINT – The class recounts as France battles the hosts

Croatia still do not have a victory against France, and it is still not over this defeat in the World Cup. For long periods of time, they seemed to be taking revenge; after a good start France lost control of the tempo and they punished them. Pogba’s introduction, however, turned the game around. His pass to Digne, who crossed for Mbappe was superb. The PSG man deserves to be congratulated for finishing after a terrible failure in the first half.

MAN OF THE MATCH – Ivan Perisic (Croatia)

Perisic deserved more at night. Croatia were able to gain a foothold in the game as they exploited France’s narrow setup by channeling the ball wide. The Inter man took part in Pasalic’s first half and almost handed the ball over to a willing runner seconds after the break.

Kylian Mbappe (L) celebrates with French midfielder Eduardo Camavinga

Image Credit: Getty Images

PLAYER RATINGS

Croatia: Livakovic 6, Uremovic 6, Lovren 5, Vida 6, Barisic 6, Badelj 6, Modric 7, Pasalic 7, Vlasic 7, Perisic 7, Petkovic 6. Suppliers: Brekalo 5, Kovacic 7, Budamir 6, Kramaric 6, Bradaric 5

France: Lloris 6, Mendy 6, Varane 6, Lenglet 6, Digne 6, Tolisso 6, N’Zonzi 7, Rabiot 6, Martial 7, Mbappe 7, Griezmann 7. Substitutes: Coman 5, Camavinga 5, Pogba 7, Giroud n / a, Hernandez n / a

KEY MOMENTS

8 ‘BUT! – France leads, the finish of Griezmann is categorical. It’s a bad defense, as Croatia failed to erase Ferland Mendy’s cross and let him free in the area.

65 ‘BUT! – Vlasic scores! It’s the least Croatia deserves after picking up in the final 15 minutes of the first half.

79 ‘BUT! – Mbappe finishes, but what a balloon from Pogba!

KEY STATS

France conceded their first away goal in five matches

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