Mon. May 16th, 2022

Robin Bairner

The PSG striker was under pressure ahead of Thursday’s Nations League semi-final but gave an emphatic response with a match-winning display

Kylian Mbappe inspired France to Sunday’s Nations League final against Spain with arguably the most impressive 45-minute display of his career to date.

Admittedly, the Paris Saint-Germain forward will have more spectacular performances both in terms of statistics and in terms of content, but the context in which he rallied to inspire Les Bleus to recover from a two-goal half-time deficit was the most trying of his career.

Mbappe, who became the quickest France player to 50 caps aged just 22 and 291 days, is not a player used to coming under pressure, yet when he took to the field at Juventus’ Allianz Stadium on Thursday, he was weighed down by circumstances.

These were not evident, though, as he brought life to Didier Deschamps’ ailing side by creating their opening goal for Karim Benzema. Neither did his critical missed penalty in Euro 2020 appear to be a burden when he fired into the top corner of Thibaut Courtois’ net to level the game.

That he did not have a hand in France’s late winner, dispatched so crisply into the net from Theo Hernandez after a surge down the right from Benjamin Pavard, was almost unjust.

Come full-time, though, Mbappe had successfully overcome his professional tumult and was evidently the star man.

It was much-needed relief for a player who has come under fire in recent weeks.

He chose Monday to break his silence over his failed summer transfer to Real Madrid, admitting that he told PSG that he wanted to leave as early as July. That interview on radio station RMC was swiftly backed up by a similar discussion with L’Equipe, published the following day.

By Nwosu Chizoba David

Nwosu Chizoba David is a soccer lover and writer. He is a graduate of Biological Sciences, presently teaching in a secondary in Lagos.

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