Mbappe (file photo)
By Valentine Amanze
France has qualified for the 2022 World Cup by defeating Kazakhstan 8-0 in a match Kylian Mbappe scored four goals at the weekend.
France was playing away from its usual home venue Stade de France and took the field at Parc des Princes, where Mbappe stars for Paris Saint-Germain.
He became the first France player since Just Fontaine at the 1958 World Cup to score four times in one game.
“The most important thing was qualifying, and we have players in our squad who have never played in the World Cup,” said Mbappe, who starred in the last one. “It’s a dream to play in it for your country.”
After 32 minutes he had his first international hat trick.
Karim Benzema combined with Theo Hernandez to set up his first goal and then Kingsley Coman picked him out twice, the second with a cross from the right met by a rare header.
Mbappe has bounced back from a disappointing Euro 2020, where he failed to score, and his late goal helped France win the Nations League final last month. Benzema also scored in that game.
The irrepressible Hernandez whipped over another cross from the left for another assist as Benzema met it at the near post for 4-0 in the 55th.
Four minutes later, Benzema played a slick one-two with Mbappe for his second goal and 35th for France.
His partnership with Mbappe is blossoming fast.
“We showed we have a good understanding and combine well together,” Benzema said. “Personally, I’m delighted to play in another World Cup (after 2014).”
Adrien Rabiot and Antoine Griezmann also scored late before Mbappe emulated the great Fontaine — the all-time leading scorer in a single World Cup with 13 goals in ’58.
Defending champion France reached next year’s World Cup along with victorious Belgium, the Netherlands failed to join them Saturday after conceding two late goals.
Belgium was less spectacular beating Estonia 3-1 at home but has an unassailable five point-lead over second-place Wales, which beat Belarus 5-1 in Cardiff and has a three-point lead over the Czech Republic for a playoff spot.