Record-breaking Giroud, sublime Mbappe send France into quarter-finals with Poland win
France beat Poland 3-1 in a record-smashing World Cup last-16 clash on Sunday (December 4) that saw Olivier Giroud become France's outright all-time top scorer and Kylian Mbappe score a magnificent double.
France were relentless on the attack as they pushed for an opening goal but could not unlock a sturdy Poland until just before the break when Mbappe played a pin-point ball through to Giroud, who hammered it past a diving Wojciech Szczesny to claim his 52nd goal for Les Bleus.
Holders France continued to press after the break, with Giroud almost netting a second when he flicked Jules Kounde's cross just past the near post. But Mbappe did not miss in the 74th minute, unleashing a missile from just inside the penalty area that shot into the top corner.
Mbappe was not done, adding a second goal in stoppage time with another screamer to seal the win and take his total for the tournament to five.
A handball by Dayot Upamecano gave Poland's Robert Lewandowski a chance of scoring a consolation goal with a penalty that was first saved by Hugo Lloris before being retaken -- and scored -- as the keeper did not have his feet on the line.
No country has repeated as World Cup champions in six decades - since Brazil achieved the feat by claiming consecutive trophies in 1958 and 1962. Italy is the only other nation to have won two straight, in 1934 and 1938.
France's quarterfinal opponent will be either England or Senegal.
France, however, wasn't so sure to go this far when several other top players were ruled out shortly before the tournament because of physical issues, including midfielders Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante, central defender Presnel Kimpembe, left back Lucas Hernandez, and forward Christopher Nkunku are also out.
On a record-setting night for France, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris matched the national team mark of 142 appearances held by Lilian Thuram.
The previous defending champion to reach the quarterfinals was Brazil in 2006 - when France beat the South Americans before eventually losing in the final to Italy in a penalty shootout.
With two European teams playing, there weren't all that many supporters of either country inside Al Thumama Stadium except for small pockets of France fans beating drums behind one goal and red-and-white clad spectators chanting "Polska" behind the opposite goal. There were also plenty of empty seats.