St Petersburg: Kylian Mbappe didn’t even go close to sniffing a goal against Belgium, leave alone the small matter of scoring one. But it was the teenaged Frenchman who enthralled fans in the first semifinal of the World Cup with three ethereal passes here on Tuesday.
Mbappe gave two assists in the first half and both of them should have resulted in goals. First, he set up Olivier Giroud after receiving a long ball from Antoine Griezmann on the right but the Chelsea forward scuffed his shot under pressure from a defender.
The PSG starlet then put Benjamin Pavard through with a sublime pass. The right-back shot with conviction but he couldn’t get past the giant frame of the Belgian goalie, Thibaut Courtois.
Mbappe, the new kid on the block, showed why he is talk of the football world with an otherworldly assist to Giroud in the second half. After receiving a square pass from Blaise Matuidi inside the box, he shifted it from his right foot to left before finding Giroud with a back heel. Mbappe took the spectators’ breath with his magical piece of skill.
His petulance earned him a yellow card towards the end. But it was like a bit of food that gets struck in the teeth after a sumptuous meal....