June 30 (UPI) — Lionel Messi will be a spectator for the remainder of the World Cup after France eliminated Argentina in the round of 16 Saturday in Kazan, Russia.
Messi did not score, but did have two assists in the 4-3 loss at Kazan Stadium. France now awaits the winner of Portugal and Uruguay in the quarterfinals. Argentina, the runner-up at the 2014 World Cup, failed to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2002 World Cup.
Kylian Mbappe led the French in the victory, scoring twice in the second half.
French midfielder Antoine Griezmann started the scoring. The Atletico Madrid star put in a penalty in the 13th minute after Mbappe drew a foul in the box. Argentina tied the match when Angel Di Maria unleashed a screamer from more than 30 yards out in the 41st minute.
France and Argentina went into the halftime whistle locked at 1-1.
Argentina took a 2-1 lead in the 48th minute. That goal came after Messi took a rip from the edge of the box. Gabriel Mercardo deflected the shot past French goalie Hugo Lloris.
Benjamin Pavard tied it up again in the 57th minute. The defender brought down a volley with his right boot on that play, sending a laser past Franco Armani.
Then Mbappe took over. The Paris Saint-Germain speedster blazed by the Argentina defense with regularity. He worked quickly in the box for his first score, which came in the 64th minute. Mbappe brought the ball down about 10 yards into the box on that play. He then weaved through defenders before putting a shot in on Armani. The goalkeeper couldn’t hang on for the save, which slipped under his arm.
Mbappe, 19, ran onto a touch from striker Olivier Giroud on his final score. Giroud was running down the middle of the pitch and about the reach the box, before he slid a through ball ahead of Mbappe. The midfielder needed just one touch to send a shot into the far post, netting for a 4-2 advantage in the 68th minute.
Argentina had some late chances, but only converted one for a score.
That goal came when Messi bent in a cross, putting it on Sergio Aguero’s head from more than 40 yards out. The Manchester City star finished with a header past Lloris to tighten the match.
Argentina’s final chance came in stoppage time, but they sent the ball over the net on their final touch.