France scored late in the first half Sunday to take a 1–0 lead over Poland, on a slick finish from Olivier Giroud following a sweet ball from Kylian Mbappé to conclude a nifty passing sequence and make Giroud the nation's all-time leading scorer with 52 goals. France has lots of cool guys—Giroud, Ousmane Dembélé, Aurélien Tchouaméni—but Kylian Mbappé is The Show. As interested as I am in the strategic value of Mbappé drawing in half the defense wherever he goes, what I want to see when I watch France is him kicking the shit out of the ball, preferably into the back of the net.
What I don't care to see is Mbappé attempting to do cool things, failing, becoming discouraged, and seeming to drift away from the action. This happened in about the 70th minute on Sunday. He attempted a cool move against a defender on the left wing, pushed the ball just a little bit too far ahead, lost possession, and briefly appeared to lose all interest in continuing with his soccer career. Manager Didier Deschamps was reduced to pleading with his dejected star, largely in vain, to please track back and reengage. Poland suddenly mounted a dangerous-looking attack, though it ultimately failed to produce a goal. France regained possession, and that's when Mbappé finally got to load up and kick the absolute hell out of that rotten bastard of a ball. Hell yeah!
This was Mbappé's fourth goal of the tournament. He had eons to stare down the keeper and pick out his shot, and probably could've scored this any number of ways, but I preferred this method. Fifteen minutes later, he got his fifth. With France still up 2–0 and Poland fading, Mbappé took a pass inside the box, once again got it to his right foot, and scored a beauty.
France advanced past Poland, 3-1. Mbappé's five goals are two more than anyone else has at this World Cup, and his nine career World Cup goals put him equal with Lionel Messi and one ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. He's 23 years old.