Kylian Mbappe’s leadership skills were on show in the France dressing room as he rallied his French teammates in the World Cup final against Argentina.
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The PSG star almost completed a one-man rescue mission at the final but his hat-trick, plus a strike in the shootout, were not enough to lead them to another global triumph as they were undone by Messi and Argentina.
Mbappe, who was named the best young player at the World Cup four years ago. He is mot often associated with the traditional leadership qualities, yet it was the youngster who took charge at half-time in the final.
France, who went in as favourites, were outclassed and outplayed by the Argentines in the first half. Messi and Angel di Maria struck to put the South Americans in control.
Yet it wasn’t the coach, but Mbappe, who addressed the team at half-time. With his compatriots sat down, he remained standing as he said: “It’s the match of a lifetime, it’s every four years. We can’t do worse than what we did. We can come back!”
It was the PSG star who led the comeback, despite a largely anonymous opening hour. France improved in the second-half, but it wasn’t until an Otamendi error handed them a lifeline that the match came to life.
Mbappe scored from the spot and then finished excellently less than 120 seconds later to level an interesting contest.
The Frenchman then rescued his country again with two minutes left of extra-time. His shot was blocked by an arm and he converted from 12 yards – a goal that ensured he picked up the Golden Boot.
Deschamps admitted France were not at the races for the first 45 minutes. He told TF1: “We utterly failed to show up in the 1st half. We expected [their intensity], we neither had the correct attitude nor the correct response. It will take a lot to worry them and come back. They played the first half as if it was the World Cup final, we did not.”