Kylian Mbappé’s twice-taken penalty moved him one goal behind Michel Platini on France’s all-time scoring list as Greece was beaten 1-0 in European Championship qualifying on Monday. (More Football News)
Platini won the Ballon d’Or three straight times from 1983-85 during his heyday with Juventus and France, for which the gifted playmaker scored and created goals with a casual brilliance that became his trademark.
“It’s huge when you know what Michel Platini represents for France,” Mbappé said. “He’s a legend.”
The win was a fourth straight for World Cup runner-up France without conceding a goal in Group B — all with Mbappé as the new captain.
“Let’s hope it lasts. I’m learning every day,” Mbappé said. “It’s an enriching experience to have this responsibility.”
Mbappé also reached 54 goals over the season combined for France and Paris Saint-Germain to beat the overall mark set by the great Just Fontaine in the 1957-58 season — the year Fontaine set an individual scoring record with 13 goals at the ’58 World Cup.
Mbappé almost turned provider when his cross from the left was headed wide by Randal Kolo Muani midway through the first half.
That allowed the Greeks to settle easier on a humid night at Stade de France, and coach Gus Poyet’s side started to look comfortable bringing the ball out from the back.
Another fluffed chance from the French saw defender Jules Koundé volley straight at the goalkeeper from Kingsley Coman’s cross on the stroke of halftime.
Early in the second half, veteran forward Antoine Griezmann took defender Konstantinos Mavropanos’ boot to the left side of his head. Griezmann was bleeding below his ear but smiled as he had thick strapping placed around his head like a rugby player.
Mavropanos was issued a yellow card. For the penalty kick, Mbappé looked tense in his run-up and goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos guessed the correct way — to his right — for a comfortable save.
But referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz ordered a retake, seemingly for a Greece player encroaching before the kick, and Mbappé made no mistake as he curled it into the right corner for his 40th goal for France.
Mavropanos, who fouled Griezmann, was shown the red card for hauling down Kolo Muani in the 70th.
France missed further chances, not least when Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé broke from midfield with only Vlachodimos to beat. But Mbappé passed up the chance and tried to give Dembélé a tap-in, only to put too much power on his pass.
Ireland beat last-placed Gibraltar 3-0 in Dublin in the other group game.