France hero Kylian Mbappe vowed to keep his feet on the ground despite matching a 60-year-old record set by Pele during his side’s sensational 4-3 victory over Argentina in the World Cup‘s last 16.
The 19-year-old’s second half double effectively sealed his side’s progress to the quarter-finals and also made him the first teenager to score two goals in a finals match since the Brazilian great in 1958.
Mbappe said in the post-match press conference: “It’s flattering to be the second one after Pele but let’s put things into context – Pele is in another category.
“But is is good to be amongst these people and to score in knockout matches. At a World Cup you have all the top level players so it is an opportunity to show what you can do and what you’re abilities are.”
Antoine Griezmann’s early penalty put France in front before Argentina replied through a stunning Angel Di Maria strike and a fortunate deflection off Gabriel Mercado either side of the half-time break.
Benjamin Pavard equalised for France before Mbappe’s two strikes around the hour mark turned the match on its head, with Sergio Aguero’s injury time header coming too late for Argentina.
Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano wasted no time in announcing his international retirement after the game after winning a record 147 caps for his country.
Mascherano told Argentinian TV: “This whole story is over, and from now on I am a fan of the Argentine team, and I hope these guys can win something in the future.”
Beleaguered Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is likely to have any decision on his own future taken out of his hands, but he cut a defiant figure in the wake of his side’s defeat.
“This is very painful, especially because the players have made a huge effort,” said Sampaoli, who is widely reported to have lost influence on his key players since their abysmal 3-0 group stage loss to Croatia.
Sampaoli added: “It was a very difficult game but we have not achieved our goal here in Russia. I’m sad, I’m frustrated – I think that’s quite normal. (But) I won’t decide my future today.”
With Mascherano gone and Lionel Messi also widely believed to be considering his international future, the focus will switch back to a new star of the game in Mbappe.
France boss Didier Deschamps said: “I am very happy for Mbappe and he has a lot of room to make progress. In such an important match he has shown his talent.
“There is an excellent mentality in this group and we did everything to go further.
“I am very proud because they have been preparing for weeks and months. We couldn’t miss it and we didn’t.”