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France's Kylian Mbappe, Marcus Thuram and teammates celebrate after the match against Poland as they progressed to the quarter finals of the FIFA World Cup. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: Kylian Mbappe is a man on fire. The Paris Saint-Germain star has been directly involved in each of France’s last six goals at the FIFA World Cup and with him on this sort of form Didier Deschamps’ side will take some stopping. Just ask Poland.

He scored twice against them in the last 16 clash and both were exquisite strikes. France were unbeaten in their last seven meetings against Poland and they never looked like losing this.

Record goal

It was Olivier Giroud who got them off the mark. The AC Milan striker was having a quiet game and had had fewer than 10 touches of the ball but then out of nowhere came the record goal. He became France’s top scorer of all time with goal number 52 for Les Bleus after Mbappe played the ball into him. He got away from his defender, took a touch to steady himself and then slotted the ball into the far bottom corner. It was a lovely finish and it why coach Deschamps loves him so much because he makes intelligent runs and his teammates options. There was a concern France would miss Karim Benzema. But I dare say that this is the best France have played for a long time.

The noise levels went up inside the Al Thumama Stadium every time Mbappe got the ball on the left. Poland’s Matty Cash had a big job on his hands to try to mark the speedy wide man. Mbappe glided past him several times like he wasn’t there. He was so fast it was impossible to deal with him all night.

Robert Lewandowski had netted 14 goals in his last 21 caps and came close from 30 yards but his effort sailed wide.

Then they had three chances in a couple of seconds as Piotr Zielinski was picked out in space in the box but his shot was saved by Hugo Lloris. Zielinski’s rebound hit Theo Hernandez and Jakub Kaminski’s follow-up was cleared off the line. They came more into the match as the first half wore on and were well organised and played higher but went in at half time trailing.

They started the second 45 well too and for once we saw Mbappe tracking back to try to stop Cash.

Poland – playing their first World Cup knockout game since 1986 – were being more adventurous with their press. The equation was simple and they knew what they had to do and as they pushed on France looked a little nervous. The Poles had been positive but that left them vulnerable to the counter attack. Mbappe put France into the quarter-finals with a stunning finish. Antoine Griezmann cleared the ball to Giroud who found Ousmane Dembele. He picked out Mbappe on the edge of the box and he curled the ball into the near top corner when keeper Wojciech Szczesny was expecting it to go to the other side.

Top corner

His second was even better. Marcus Thuram beat Cash on the wing and found Mbappe in the box. The 23-year-old took a touch to get himself free and fizzed the ball into the far top corner.

Mbappe is now the top goalscorer at this World Cup with four goals. That matches his total from 2018 but he will score many more.

Poland were awarded a penalty deep into injury time and up stepped Lewandowski to stroke home his second goal of the tournament. It was probably the final touch of his World Cup career.