Kylian Mbappe’s first time tap in was enough as France edged Peru 1-0 in their second Group C World Cup match played at the Ekaterinburg Arena, Russia on Thursday.
The win enabled Les Blues to secure qualification to the Round of 16 with a game to spare as the brave South Americans crashed out of the competition. It was that type of match for Peru who did all they could to score but they were unlucky not to grab at least a point from this match.
Peru started strongly but it was France that created the best chances of this match. In the 10th minute, Olivier Giroud pushed goal wards when a defender dispossessed him with the ball falling to Antoine Griezmann’s path. The forward fired wide on his weaker right foot from five yards out with Pedro Gallese closing him down.
A minute later, Paul Pogba left Christian Cueva for dead just outside the box and unleashed a 25 yard piledriver that fizzed narrowly wide to the right post. Barely two minutes later, Raphael Varane jumped highest to head past the left post after a well delivered Griezmann corner.
France looked menacing and had a strong penalty call in the 15th minute when Olivier Giroud flicked to Mbappe who was brought down in the penalty area. The referee was unfazed by the incident. Seconds later, Giroud was involved again this time with a knockdown header to Griezmann who hit a first time shot on his right foot to draw a smart save from Gallese.
Peru had a rare chance in the 30th minute when Cueva fed captain Paolo Guerrero in the box. He dribbled past Samuel Umtiti before firing a low shot that Hugo Lloris blocked using his legs. France knocked on the door in the 32nd minute, Pogba made his trademark lobbed pass into the box. Mbappe adjusted himself but his weaker back heel was saved by Gallese.
This sustained pressure finally became too much for Peru a minute later when Giroud’s blocked shot deflected off a defender and over Gallese. The ball fell kindly to Mbappe who had the easiest of jobs to put the ball into the back of an empty net. He became the youngest ever French player to score in a major competition.
Three minutes to halftime, N’Golo Kante passed to Griezman who in turn fed the unmarked Lucas Fernandez. The left back fired a hard shot was parried to safety by Gallese to close out a fiery half.
Same script in the second half.
In the second half, it was more of the same script with France dictating play. Peru almost had an unexpected equalizer when Pedro Aquino hit a vicious shot that crashed against the top right post with Lloris breathing a sigh of relief.
Peru players made lovely interplay passes in the 60th minute. Jefferson Farfan squared the ball to Andre Carrilo who skied his effort at goal. The South Americans wrestled possession from the French and found spaces in between the opposition setup.
One of those incidents had Carrilo cross from a tight angle to Farfan who made an acrobatic half-volley that agonisingly hit the side netting. France held on secure the all-important three points. They now face Denmark who drew 1-1 Australia in the other group match.