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WORLD CUP 2018: France collect thrilling victory over Argentina

France have taken out a thrilling win against 2014 finalists Argentina, securing a pulsating 4-3 win to put themselves in the quarter finals of Russia 2018.

The last time these two sides faced off at the World Cup finals was back in 1978, Argentina prevailing 2-1 in their first World Cup campaign as hosts.

Early signs suggested that both sides were willing to do whatever it takes to secure a quarter final berth, but Argentina showed to be vulnerable in transition.

France exploited this flaw in the opening minutes, with Mbappe drawing a penalty off lacklustre defending from Marcos Rojo just 14 minutes in. Griezmann showed no signs of missing to give his side the 1-0 lead.

Keen on utilising their speedy firepower, France looked to push the pace to catch Argentina off guard as Mbappe almost won another penalty soon after. Argentina took some time to wake up and start firing while France maintained control of the early exchanges.

The momentum swayed massively as Di Maria shook the world with a fantastic effort outside the box that flew into the top corner, leaving Lloris with no chance and France left stunned like a deer in headlights.

The scores remained locked at 1-1 heading into the halftime break. Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli deemed Rojo a liability as he opted to deploy Fazio in centre defence.

Argentina looked a different outfit after the kick off, trying to bring the game under their control and remain patient on the ball. Their possession paid off as Mercado's unintentional deflection left Lloris rooted to the spot as the ball dribbled over the line.

France were not to be outdone so easily, and despite lesser possession the French threatened with every attack. Messi and his compatriots were left dejected when France drew level through the unlikeliest of sources.

Right back Benjamin Pavard scored his first international goal with a beautifully taken half volley, giving France a sniff at sneaking back into this game.

France turned up the heat on their counterattacks, and with Argentina constantly committing too many men to the forward line it was only a matter of time. Mbappe catching out the South Americans not once, but twice against the run of play, scoring 2 goals in 5 minutes to complete a huge turnaround.

In doing so, he became the first teenager to score 2 goals in a World Cup match since Pele back in 1958, a feat that won't be equalled again anytime soon.

Argentina were ultimately left to rue their inability to convert possession into goals or chances, capitalised by Messi's miskick inside the area in the dying stages.

Questions will be asked as to the exclusions of goal ace Gonzalo Higuain and young gun Paulo Dybala, and the world will be wondering if it's the last we'll see of Lionel Messi at the World Cup.

A dramatic end to an exciting game as France became the first side to progress to the quarter finals of Russia 2018.

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Chris Sermeno

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