France vs Peru 1-0 Kylian Mbappe Russia World Cup
France qualified for the knockout stages of the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Peru in Yekaterinburg on Thursday. PIX: Marius Becker/dpa

YEKATERINBURG, RUSSIA – France qualified for the knockout stages of the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Peru in Yekaterinburg on Thursday.

Kylian Mbappe scored the only goal of the game on 34 minutes to seal victory, which also means Peru are out the tournament.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward became the youngest player to score for France aged 19 years and 183 days.

Pedro Aquino rattled the crossbar for Peru with a long shot in the second half but France were comfortable winners. They now top Group C with six points with one round of fixtures remaining.

“We have won twice, not everyone has done that,” said an upbeat France coach Didier Deschamps.

“We suffered in the second half because Peru fought with great will. But we are qualified, that was our goal.

“In the third game, group victory is now the goal. But first we will enjoy this win.”

France need a draw in that last match against Denmark on Tuesday to progress as group winners. Russia and Uruguay have already qualified from Group A in an order yet to be determined.

The first World Cup finals in 36 years will end at the opening hurdle for Peru, who join Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco in an early exit, after a second defeat.

The South Americans started well and Yoshimar Yotun tried to beat Hugo Lloris from the halfway line but the France goalkeeper, playing his 100th game for his country, watched the effort sail over his bar.

Antoine Griezmann had France’s first chance but his shot from Olivier Giroud’s lay-off went wide. Peru started with plenty of attacking intention but they could not finish.

Coach Ricard Gareca had given captain Paolo Guerrero his World Cup starting debut but there was no fairytale goal.

The 34-year-old all-time record goalscorer for his country was played in by Edison Flores from the right midway through the first half but Lloris reacted well to save his shot.

Asked about the doping charges that are still hanging over him and originally saw Guerrero banned from the tournament Gareca said: “He is a national hero. He was out for eight months and so the preparation was not the best.

“He did everything he could. We just hope things resolve themselves. We wish him all the best.”

Having come close to taking the lead through Guerrero, Peru were behind 10 minutes before the break with Mbappe scoring from close range.

Pogba was the architect by winning possession and playing through Giroud. When his shot was half-blocked by Miguel Trauco it ballooned up over the keeper for Mbappe to finish.

“I was very happy to get the goal,” said Mbappe picking up his Man-of-the-Match award. “Playing and scoring in the World Cup is a dream for me.”

Peru needed to raise the tempo in the second half and Jefferson Farfan and Anderson Santamaria came on to add pace to their attack.

The changes seemed to be working and Aquino hit the crossbar. Farfan went close with an acrobatic volley into the side netting but Peru could find no way through.

Nabil Fekir came on for the disappointing Griezmann and was immediately clattered by Aquino.

The referee booked Edison Flores by mistake but corrected his decision after being prompted by the video assistant referee.

Pogba was then booked for catching Farfan with a flailing arm and from the free-kick Peru had their last chance but Guerrero’s set-piece was easily gathered by Lloris.

Peru are still pointless but they have made friends in Russia with their noisy supporters and attacking football.

“We thank the Peruvian fans so much for the great support in Russia,” said their goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.

“We left everything on the field against two very tough opponents. But this does not end here, we are going to close the World Cup with the same attitude.” -DPA

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