Iceland nearly stunned the 2018 World Cup winners, France. Despite leading by two goals at the Roudourou Stadium, les Bleues managed a late comeback with striker Kylian Mbappe netting the equalizer in the 90th minute.
Iceland and France ended this summer’s World Cup in completely different ways. Iceland, one of the greatest surprises of recent years, exited the competition early, much to the dismay of the numerous fans worldwide, rooting for the tiny Scandinavian nation.
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) October 11, 2018
On the other hand, France’s economical style of play helped them to win the tournament. The victory made a star of Kylian Mbappe and further cemented the reputation of the other French players.
It was with this celebratory feeling that France greeted Iceland on Thursday in a friendly game. The feeling of confidence was quickly shattered when Birkir Bjarnason opened the scoring in the 30th minute. Iceland held their own against the reigning world champions and added a second goal through Kári Árnason. Throughout the game Iceland recorded an astonishing possession rate of almost 70%.
— Knattspyrnusambandið (@footballiceland) October 11, 2018
Facing the prospects of a rather humiliating defeat, manager Didier Deschamps sent on teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, replacing Antoine Griezmann. The striker, recently honored with a slot on the cover of Time magazine, reinvigorated France’s attack.
The French side’s relentless offense forced Hólmar Örn Eyjólfsson to a mistake which lead to an own goal. Then in the 90th minute, Mbappe earned the chance to convert from the spot kick, after the referee deemed that Kolbeinn Sigthórsson had been responsible for a handball inside the area. Mbappe stepped up to the spot, wearing a confident smile no less, and converted, putting an end to what would have been a historic victory for Iceland.
When it was all over, there were enough reasons for both nations to celebrate the outcome. Iceland nearly defeated the world champs on their own grounds. France rescued the game through Mbappe, a player already being spoken of as potentially one of the greatest the game has ever seen.
Author: Eduard Bănulescu