After each matchday of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Sportsnet.ca’s World Cup Daily blog will recap the day’s events and look ahead to the next day’s slate of games.
Here’s what happened on Sunday in Qatar, in case you missed it…
France 3, Poland 1 in Doha: Match report || Match stats
England 3, Senegal 0 in Khor: Match report || Match stats
Quarter-finals matchup: England vs. France in Lusail (Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. ET)
MAIN TALKING POINTS
Mbappé, Giroud send France through to quarterfinals
The old and young generations combined to devastating effect for France on Sunday, as Les Bleus moved one step closer to reaching their ambitious goal of becoming only the third men’s team to repeat as World Cup champions – and the first since Brazil won back-to-back trophies in 1958 and 1962.
A comprehensive 3-1 win over Poland was achieved thanks in large part to Olivier Giroud, who opened the scoring with his 52nd goal for the French men’s side, overtaking Thierry Henry to become the top goal scorer in the team’s history.
Not to be outdone was Kylian Mbappé, who after setting up Giroud’s opener bagged a brace to become the first player in World Cup history to score eight career goals before his 24th birthday.
Mbappé’s first goal of the night in the 74th minute highlighted the very best qualities of this sensational French team. Centre back Raphaël Varane outmuscled Polish striker Robert Lewandowski to start the counter attack. Forward Antoine Griezmann displayed great selflessness in helping out in his own box to win back possession. Giroud had a sublime touch on the ball as he kept the attacking sequence moving along. Ousmane Dembele’s speed and directness in progressing the ball forward pushed Poland back on its heels. And Mbappé’s sheer skill in firing a powerful shot into the top left corner that no goalkeeper could’ve saved was something to behold.
“He can change a match in just a moment and he’s always playing with such joy and we all want to share those smiles with him,” France manager Didier Deschamps told reporters after the game. “France needed a great Kylian Mbappé tonight and they got one.”
Senegal flames out with heavy loss to England
Senegal marked its World Cup debut in 2002 in grand style, defeating reigning world and European champions France, featuring Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry, in the opening game of the tournament in Seoul. The Lions of Teranga further announced themselves on the international stage by going unbeaten in the group stage and defeating Sweden to become only the third African nation to reach the quarterfinals of the men’s World Cup.
Twenty years later, Senegal arrived in Qatar looking to duplicate the sensational feat of that amazing side that was captained by current coach Aliou Cissé and forward El Hadji Diouf, who was named to the tournament’s all-star team. But the dream was snuffed out in the cruellest of fashions on Sunday by a first-rate England team.
The reigning African champions were dealt a crushing blow on the eve of this World Cup when star striker Sadio Mané of Bayern Munich was ruled out of the competition due to injury. After losing to the Netherlands in its opening match, the Senegalese didn’t look like they’d be sticking around in Qatar for very long. But they quickly regrouped and rebounded with a pair of wins over the host nation and Ecuador to book their spot in the round of 16, with Mané’s absence made up for by five different players stepping up to score in the group stage.
But a fighting spirit and resolve can only carry you so far at a World Cup. Ultimately, class prevails. England has it in abundance; Senegal is in short supply of it. That was the difference on the day as England was positively ruthless in attack as it unmercifully exploited the Africans’ defensive shortcomings, with the usually reliable Kalidou Koulibaly proving to be a liability.
GOAL OF THE DAY
In the 74th minute, France won the ball back inside its box and then quickly launched a gorgeous counter-attacking sequence that ended with Kylian Mbappé taking a pass from Ousmane Dembele and then blasting a shot from 16 yards out into the top corner of the net that left goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny completely helpless.
MOMENT OF THE DAY
It has to be Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny consoling his young son Liam after Poland was eliminated by France.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“There is no recipe. No one knows the recipe; no coach knows the recipe to stop Kylian Mbappé in the form he is in. He hurt us today, but I am cheering for him because he is a real star. I’m talking about [Lionel] Messi, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Robert] Lewandowski. If someone is going to take over, I think Mbappé will be the player to be the best one [for] many years.” – Poland coach Czesław Michniewicz.
SIX PACK OF STATS
• Hugo Lloris has equalled Lilian Thuram as the most-capped player in the history of the French men’s team (142 appearances). He also tied Thierry Henry and Fabien Barthez for the joint-most World Cup appearances for Les Bleus (17).
• Kylian Mbappé has scored five goals in four games at this World Cup, already surpassing his goal tally from the tournament in 2018 (four goals in seven games).
• France’s men’s team will play in the quarterfinals of three consecutive World Cups for the first time in its history.
• At 32 years and 170 days, Jordan Henderson is the second-oldest scorer for England at the men’s World Cup, after Tom Finney (36 years and 64 days) against the Soviet Union in 1958.
• Harry Kane has now scored 11 goals at major tournaments for England (seven at the World Cup, four at the Euros), overtaking Gary Lineker as the English men’s team’s all-time top scorer in such competitions.
• England and France have never met before in the knockout stage of a major men’s tournament (World Cup and European Championship).
Stats courtesy of Opta
THREE STARS OF THE DAY
1) Kylian Mbappé (France): The Paris Saint-Germain forward set up France’s opening goal, and then scored two himself to take over as this tournament’s top scorer (five) and send his nation through to the quarter-finals.
2) Jude Bellingham (England): He collected an assist on Jordan Henderson’s opening goal, and was a driving force in the midfield for the Three Lions, completing 85.3 per cent of his passes and making four tackles.
3) Ousmane Dembele (France): Tallied one assist and was a constant attacking threat for France, using his speed and direct play to continually force the Polish defence to back pedal.
LOOKING AHEAD TO MONDAY
Fresh off upset wins over Germany and Spain in the group stage, Japan will be looking to knock off another European giant when it faces Croatia (10 a.m. ET). All four of their goals have come in the second half when they’ve been trailing, so the Japanese have shown great resolve in Qatar. But going down against Croatia, who boast a star-studded midfield led by Luka Modrić, would be ill-advised.
The other game sees Brazil tangle with South Korea (2 p.m. ET). It’s only the third time this South Korean team has made it to the knockout round in 11 World Cup appearances, while Brazil will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing loss to Cameroon in its group stage finale.
John Molinaro is one of the leading soccer journalists in Canada, having covered the game for over 20 years for several media outlets, including Sportsnet, CBC Sports and Sun Media. He is currently the editor-in-chief of TFC Republic, a website dedicated to in-depth coverage of Toronto FC and Canadian soccer. TFC Republic can be found here.