World Cup fans lose it over 'unreal' Kylian Mbappe moment

·6-min read
Seen here, Moroccan defender Sofyan Amrabat cleans up France superstar Kylian Mbappe in an extraordinary cover tackle in the World Cup semi-final.
Moroccan defender Sofyan Amrabat cleaned up France superstar Kylian Mbappe in an extraordinary cover tackle in the World Cup semi-final. Pic: Twitter/Getty

France have kept alive their hopes of becoming the first country in 60 years to win back-to-back World Cups, after a hard-fought 2-0 semi-final victory over Morocco that sets up a mouthwatering decider against Argentina on Monday morning (AEDT). France superstar Kylian Mbappe had a hand in both goals - scored by Theo Hernandez and substitute Randal Kolo Muani - as Les Bleus booked their place in the final against Lionel Messi's Argentina.

France will head into the decider against Argentina looking to become the first team to retain the World Cup trophy since Pele's legendary Brazil side in 1962. Mbappe has the chance to cement his status as football's new superstar when he comes up against the 35-year-old Messi, who has dominated the game with Cristiano Ronaldo for the past 15 years, and may well be playing in his last World Cup.

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While Mbappe was surprisingly prevented from adding to his tally of five goals so far at this tournament, he certainly gave the Moroccan defence - missing both first choice centre backs for the majority of the game - plenty of headaches. In a disaster for Morocco, Nayef Aguerd was ruled out of the match after being injured in the warm-up, while his centre back partner and captain Romain Saiss lasted only 21 minutes before limping off with a hamstring injury.

The awful situation was harsh on Morocco - who went into the game having not conceded a goal to an opposition player all tournament - and it took less than five minutes for France to put them to the sword. Antoine Griezmann's cross found Mbappe, whose goal-bound effort was deflected into the path of Theo Hernandez, who let the ball bounce before driving a downward effort into the net from an tight angle.

Jawad El Yamiq came close to equalising for Morocco with an audacious overhead kick that hit the post in the 44th minute, while France's defenders had to make a number of last-ditch tackles in front of their own goal. Mbappe helped put the game to bed late on after enjoying more space from the tiring Moroccan defence, and his jinking run and shot was again deflected into a teammate's path, with substitute Muani sealing the game with his side's second goal in the 79th minute.

The scoreline perhaps flattered France, who were on the back foot for long stretches of the game, against a determined Morocco side. The African side showed tremendous spirit, togetherness and a never-say-die attitude but fell just short against the classy French.

One incident that typified their fighting display to perfection came during the second half when Mbappe left a number of Moroccan defenders in his wake with a lightning run out of his own half that took him all the way the Moroccan by-line. The France superstar had already burned several defenders with his extraordinary speed when Sofyan Amrabat came from nowhere to make one of the tackles of the tournament.

The 26-year-old had only one thing on his mind after sprinting after Mbappe, before launching himself into a desperate sliding tackle before the France forward could cross the ball. Amrabat absolutely crunched Mbappe in what was deemed to be a clean tackle, with the remarkable sequence sending social media into meltdown.

France set up World Cup decider against Argentina

France also had opportunities to add to their tally when Olivier Giroud struck the post and missed from point-blank range in the first half at the end of a barnstorming run through the middle from Aurelien Tchouameni. The midfielder threaded a superb ball to find Mbappe, whose miscued shot was poorly cleared, allowing Giroud a first-time shot which flew wide from close-in.

Morocco were never overawed and had opportunities, with Azzedine Ounahi forcing two good saves from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, and curling set-pieces putting the French defence under pressure. The north Africans were hit hard by the injuries to their two key players but they refused to go into their shells because of the setback.

Pictured left, Morocco captain Romain Saiss goes off with injury midway through the first half of the world Cup semi-final against France.
Morocco captain Romain Saiss (L) was forced off with injury midway through the first half of the world Cup semi-final against France. Pic: Getty

Replacement central defender El Yamiq came closest to an equaliser with his spectacular bicycle kick on the stroke of halftime, following a poorly cleared corner by the French, with Lloris getting a vital touch as the ball hit the base of the upright.

France's victory sets up the tantalising prospect of a decisive clash between Argentina maestro Messi, at the end of his international career, and France's Mbappe, emerging as the game's next great superstar.

Morocco's exit was tempered by their achievement of becoming the first African country to reach a World Cup semi-final, a feat widely celebrated. They can expect to be hailed as heroes when they return home after Saturday's third-place play-off against Croatia (2am Sunday AEDT).

with AAP

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