France became the first team to qualify for
the round of 16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup as the defending champions beat
Denmark 2-1 in a clash between two of the top ten ranked nations at Stadium 974
in Qatar. Kylian Mbappe broke the deadlock for France in the 61st minute after
an exchange with Theo Hernandez, but Denmark hit back through an Andreas
Christensen header seven minutes later.
However, the French had the final say as
Mbappe bagged his second in the dying moments of regulation time to secure all
three points for the 2018 winners and clinch their spot in the knockout rounds
of the tournament. With this brace, Mbappe became the seventh-highest
goal-scorer for the French national team, equalling Zinedine Zidane’s record of
31 strikes, while also becoming just the second player in history after Pele to
score seven World Cup goals before turning 24.
France lost both of their last two
encounters against Denmark in the Nations League in 2022, but Didier Deschamps’
side dominated the proceedings in the first half. Kasper Schmeichel made a fine
save to deny Adrien Rabiot’s header, while Mbappe blazed one over the bar after
being set up by Ousmane Dembele.
The PSG forward’s pace was a constant
threat for the Danish side throughout the encounter, and France deservedly took
the lead on the hour mark through their talismanic forward. Mbappe exchanged a
one-two with Theo Hernandez in the final third, completing a clever first-time
finish from the left-back’s cross to open the scoring.
France’s lead didn’t last for long as
Denmark provided an instant response to going behind. Andreas Christensen
headed home from fellow centre-back Joachim Andersen’s flick-on to pull the
Euro 2020 semi-finalists back into the contest. Denmark even had chances to win
the game in the final 20 minutes. Hugo Lloris was forced into making a reaction
save to deny his club team-mate Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, while Martin
Brathwaite’s snapshot drifted wide off the post.
Denmark were eventually made to rue these
missed opportunities as France re-took the lead in the 86th minute through
Kylian Mbappe. The 23-year-old made a darting run at the far post to get on the
end of Antoine Griezmann’s cross to send the French fans into delirium in
Stadium 974 in Qatar.
This win puts France at the top of Group D
and secures their passage to the round of 16. Denmark, on the other hand, have
it all to do in their final group stage game against Australia, with Kasper Hjulmand’s
side needing a win and the three points to make the knockout rounds.