KAZAN, Russia: Coach Didier Deschamps said France had responded to their critics with a “great” performance to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup with a 4-3 win over Argentina on Saturday.
France struggled to convince during the group stage of the tournament in Russia and Deschamps said he was happy they had finally lived up to expectations.
“We had to respond (to the critics) and we responded well,” he said. “Criticism is always there. But there is truth on the pitch and (the response) came through a strong and quality performance which we delivered tonight. We made Argentina suffer.”
“It was a great fixture and a great match,” he told TF1. “There were mistakes, obviously. We started badly at 2-1 down but we knew what we needed to do. We could have kept things a bit simpler near the end of the game, though.
“There was a lot of emotion. I am happy for the players who went out to get this qualification for the quarterfinals.
“As I told them before the game, we have been preparing for months, for weeks to play matches like that.”
Earlier, wonderkid Kylian Mbappe sent Lionel Messi home empty-handed following a seven-goal thriller.
Man-of-the-match Mbappe brushed off the Pele comparisons.
“I’m very happy and it’s flattering to be the second teenager (to score twice in the knock-out rounds) after Pele but let’s put things in context: Pele is in another category, but it’s good to be among these people,” he said.
Mbappe was born in the Paris suburbs in 1998, the year Les Bleus secured their first World Cup title under captain Didier Deschamps.
After his man-of-the-match performance overshadowed a mediocre display by Messi and Argentina, Mbappe laughed off suggestions that 1998 will be more remembered as the year of his birth,.
“For me there’s no debate... it was the first time we were world champions.”
Mbappe could now go on to become one of the stars of the World Cup, and he added: “All the big players are at the World Cup.
“It’s an opportunity to show what we can do. There’s no bigger stage in football.” — AFP