Yekaterinburg (Russia), June 21 (IANS) Kylian Mbappe became France’s youngest goal-scorer in FIFA World Cup history as they beat Peru 1-0 in a Group C match here on Thursday to enter the pre-quarterfinals.
Mbappe’s 34th-minute strike from close range was the lone goal scored in the match at the Ekaterinburg Arena as Peru’s hopes to reach the second round after suffering second consecutive loss. Peru are with zero points, while Denmark are second with four points.
France, who were criticised for their style of play during their 2-1 win over Australia, top the table with six points and will meet Denmark in their third and final group stage game.
Against Peru, France did well not to leave their qualification to the game against Denmark, who were held 1-1 by Australia earlier in the day.
Didier Deschamps-coached France, who switched to a 4-2-3-1 with the inclusion of striker Olivier Giroud and midfielder Blaise Matuidi, who played in an offensive role, saw the midfield coordinating well with the attack, which aided their fluid game.
Left-back Lucas Hernandez moved up and down to give an extra member in their attacking build-up as the team began to question Peru’s defence from the beginning.
Midfielder Paul Pogba launched a long-range effort from 30 yards out which forced goalkeeper Pedro Gallese to dive to his right to ensure that the ball goes wide of the left post in the 12th minute.
Two minutes later, Raphael Varane’s header off a corner missed the target by a slight margin, going wide of the right post.
Gallese then blocked a right-footed drive from Antoine Griezmann after Giroud brought down an aerial ball from the deep in the 17th minute.
Peru took time to get some good touches in the game. Veteran centre-forward Paolo Guerrero, who returned to the starting line-up after missing the Denmark game in place of Jefferson Farfan, had a left-footed shot on goal from around 12 yards out in thr 29th minute but France keeper Hugo Lloris was alert.
However, the pace and quick passing of France meant they they could turn it on at any moment. And they did with lethal impact, five minutes later. Following a through ball from Pogba, Giroud’s left-footed drive from the left side of the box deflected past defender Christian Ramos, beating Gallese, who moved towards the right post. Mbappe raced to tap it in to give France a crucial lead.
After the break, Peru made their intention clear by substituting midfielder Yoshimar Yotun with forward Farfan, while full-back Alberto Rodrigues was replaced by central defender Anderson Santamaria in order to provide more pace and width.
Peru almost got their equaliser when a 30-yard piledriver from Pedro Aquino flew inches away from the left post.
Peru employed further pressure on the French team but the latter showed its resolve and composure, especially in its own box.
Long-range drives from Andre Carrillo and Luis Advincula went over the cross-bar as a desperate Peru continue to hunt for their equaliser.
Another good movement from Peru saw Carrillo crossing from the right to left for Farfan, but his header could only hit the side-netting.
France managed to hold to their slim advantage as Peru lacked quality in finishing.