Kylian Mbappe set up a history-making goal for Olivier Giroud and then scored two himself as holders France eased into the World Cup quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Poland on Sunday.
Giroud’s opening goal a minute before half-time was his 52nd for his country, allowing him to pass Thierry Henry and become France’s all-time record marksman.
Mbappe’s lethal strike in the 74th minute killed off any prospect of a Poland comeback. He netted again at the death to move to nine goals in just 11 World Cup appearances.
At the other end, the threat of Robert Lewandowski was snuffed out by the French defence; although the 34-year-old Poland captain did get the consolation of scoring a stoppage-time penalty.
France marched on to the quarter-finals; on course to become the first team to successfully defend the World Cup since Brazil 60 years ago.
“It wasn’t easy because Poland was well organized and tried to counter us,” France coach Didier Deschamps told broadcaster TF1.
“Then there is Kylian with his ability to resolve all sorts of problems, and that’s just as well for us.
“This team has been united from the beginning and obviously a result like this one confirms that. The joy is shared among everyone.”
France were overwhelming favorites against a Poland side who limped through the group stage; who had not won a World Cup knockout tie since 1982.
“We got out of the group stage for the first time since 1986. That was our main objective,” said Poland coach Czeslaw Michniewicz.
But he added, “There is no recipe to stop Mbappe in the form that he is in right now.”
Mbappe returned as one of nine changes following their inconsequential defeat by Tunisia, with goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris also coming back to win his 142nd cap.
That saw him equal the record for most France appearances, held by Lilian Thuram, whose son Marcus came off the bench here.
It was a history-making occasion for France but what Deschamps wanted above all was a routine victory and progression to the last eight.
The sky should be the limit for a French side led by Mbappe, but it is not just him.
Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann were lively in a strong start in a hushed atmosphere at Al Thumama Stadium.