Mbappe the 'trigger for victory' at PSG following Strasbourg rescue

By Sports Desk December 28, 2022

Kylian Mbappe was the "trigger for victory" in Paris Saint-Germain's defeat of Strasbourg as head coach Christophe Galtier praised the forward for putting World Cup heartbreak behind him.

The attacker won and converted a stoppage-time penalty to snatch a late victory against Strasbourg in Ligue 1 on Wednesday after Neymar had been sent off.

Mbappe's intervention came 10 days after he scored a World Cup final hat-trick for France, only to lose out on a second successive title as Argentina won on penalties.

However, Galtier praised the 24-year-old's fortitude, highlighting his role as a talisman for the champions and suggesting he will pick up where he left off with his World Cup form.

"I think he is on the level of what he did in Qatar," the coach said. "He's benefited from a few days off. Despite the sadness, he had an exceptional tournament, and his recovery means he's been on the pace.

"Since his return, he was determined to play our next two matches. He was the trigger for victory when it was tough. He has taught the whole team with his selflessness."

Neymar's dismissal, for consecutive yellow cards around the hour mark, proved the biggest moment of the match before Mbappe's late heroics.

The Brazilian was booked initially for catching Adrien Thomasson in the face with a trailing hand.

He was then dismissed for simulation.

Galtier acknowledged the second offence was the right call by the officials but felt the first was harsh, particularly after Neymar was on the receiving end of several unpunished challenges.

"I can understand the anger on his part," Galtier added. "I regret that the excessive commitment was not sanctioned more severely. I can understand the simulation, it deserves a yellow.

"But a few minutes before, he takes a bad blow. His first yellow is very severe compared to the number of challenges suffered by Neymar, and not small challenges."

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    Mbappe had reportedly hoped to feature as one of Les Bleus' three overage players allowed per team in the primarily under-23 event.

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    "That's just the way it is, and I understand that too. I’m joining a new team in September, so it's not the best way to start an adventure.

    "Now, I think I'm going to wish this French team all the best. I'm going to watch every game. Of course, as a fan, things will change. I hope they'll bring home the gold medal."

    Mbappe's full attention is now on aiming to help France land a record-equalling third European Championship title in Germany.

    The 25-year-old, who missed training earlier this week, provided an update on his fitness.

    "I think the most important thing is not necessarily the physical, but the mental," he said. "How far I'm willing to go to win, that's the most important thing.

    "I'm ready to win, it's more of a mental issue. My head is perfect, now let's see how my legs are. The most important thing is to be connected and to be fully invested in the mission we have, which is to win the match."

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    France are seen as one of the favourites to win the tournament in Germany, having reached the final at three of their last four major competitions, finishing as runners-up at Euro 2016 and the 2022 World Cup either side of winning the 2018 World Cup.

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    France's Euro 2024 preparations have been overshadowed by political events in the country, with forwards Marcus Thuram and Mbappe both choosing to speak out ahead of parliamentary elections to take place in the coming weeks.

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    Mbappe, meanwhile, used Sunday's pre-match press conference to say: "I hope we'll still be proud to wear this jersey on July 7."

    Deschamps is not concerned about such matters distracting his players and never considered advising them against airing their views. 

    "I consider that my intervention would be inappropriate. I could have said, 'given the situation, guys, focus on the sport', as if I forbade them to speak," he said.

    "I didn't. They are men, French citizens, with their own sensitivities. When they are on the pitch, they are focused on the sporting objectives, but not disconnected from what can happen."

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