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Lionel Messi fittingly outshone by heir to his throne in last ever World Cup appearance

The Argentine great is likely to bow out from the international scene - and was second best to a ridiculous Kylian Mbappe in France's victory

This felt like a symbolic day in the course of history.

June 30 2018 – the day the baton was passed from one footballing great to the next in line to the throne?

Leo Messi’s troubled international career is likely to finish on a low after Argentina were beaten 4-3 by France in a truly pulsating World Cup encounter.


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The GOAT was floored

Getty Images - Getty
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The GOAT was floored

Messi was, by his standards, fairly anonymous throughout and it speaks volumes that seven goals were scored and none of them came from the Argentine great.

Instead he was outshone by the other number 10 on the field and the man – or boy – who many feel will eventually follow in his footsteps as the greatest player on the planet.

Because Kylian Mbappe is still just 19.

Boy wonder

Getty - Contributor
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Boy wonder

19-years-old.

He wasn’t even alive for France’s last World Cup triumph in 1998 – the only member of the current French squad that statistic applies to.

But Mbappe came of age in Kazan, scoring twice but offering far more than just goals in one of the most iconic World Cup matches for decades.

What were you doing at 19?

AFP
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What were you doing at 19?

It was his searing pace that won the penalty for France’s first goal, sprinting more than 70 yards before being cynically brought down by Marcos Rojo.

Then, when France needed a hero to step up after Argentina flipped the game on its head, it was the youngest player on the pitch who grasped the bull by the horns.

An iconic snap

AFP
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An iconic snap

His first goal was reminiscent of peak Thierry Henry with his feint and low finish, whilst his second was unerringly clinical after a flowing team move.

Messi, meanwhile, was marshalled relentlessly by the irrepressible N’Golo Kante.

The last we see of him in the famous blue and white?

Reuters
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The last we see of him in the famous blue and white?

In a contest that had so many different facets, it is Mbappe’s coming of age that will resonate most.

While one great bows out of the international game, one destined for greatness announced himself to it.


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