PARIS – Kylian Mbappe said he will likely never get over the disappointment of losing the World Cup final after the France star scored the winner on his return to action for Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
“I think I’m never going to get over it,” the forward said, speaking 10 days after he scored a hat-trick in the final against Argentina which the South Americans won in a penalty shoot-out.
Mbappe showed few signs of the setback in Qatar as he won and converted a 96th-minute penalty to give PSG a last-gasp 2-1 win against Strasbourg on Ligue 1‘s resumption following the World Cup break.
Captain Marquinhos had put the hosts ahead with an early header but the Brazilian defender scored an own goal after 51 minutes as some of PSG’s stars appeared to be suffering a post-Qatar hangover.
Lionel Messi was absent from the PSG line-up after his World Cup-winning exploits and is set to return to the squad only next week.
“As I said to my teammates, there is no reason why the club should pay the price for the failure of the national team, they are two very different situations,” he added.
“I try to come back with positive energy.”
He also commented on the antics of Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez.
The goalkeeper called for a minute’s silence for Mbappe in the dressing room during the post-match celebrations in Doha and cradled a doll with the Frenchman’s face during the team’s victory parade in Buenos Aires.
“The celebrations, they’re not my problem. I don’t waste any energy on such futile things,” said Mbappe, who scored past Martinez four times in the final.
“What’s important for me is to give the best of myself for my club, and we’re looking forward for Leo (Messi) to return to continue scoring and winning matches.”
Mbappe had been a constant menace on his return to club action but was unable to convert two clear-cut chances.
But deep into second-half injury time, the relentless Frenchman was brought down in the penalty area and he duly scored the vital goal from the spot.
PSG coach Christophe Galtier praised Mbappe, saying: “I think he is on the level of what he did in Qatar. “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,” he added.
Neymar, who was left in tears after Brazil were knocked out by Croatia in the World Cup quarter-finals, was sent off for two yellow cards against Strasbourg.
PSG top the standings with 44 points, eight ahead of RC Lens, who have a game in hand. Strasbourg are in 19th place on 11 points. The Ligue 1 leaders also announced that their 30-year-old Italian midfielder Marco Verratti has extended his stay at the club until 2026. AFP