Kylian Mbappe starred in a 4-3 goal harvest encounter that left Messi and Argentina bruised and expelled from the World Cup in the round of 16.
With the pace of Usain Bolt and the skill of Ronaldo Nazario De Lima, the young PSG attacker tore a clueless Argentina defence into shreds, scoring a brace and causing a penalty which was beautifully dispatched by Antoinne Griezmann.
Pavard scored a sensation of a goal to cancel out an Argentina lead scored through a callous deflection but Di Maria’s cracker could linger on as one of the classics of the tournament with Aguero’s header later on counting for nothing more than a consolation.
It was a game of epic proportions by two heavyweights; a game that could easily pass for the final, but had to be settled in the round of 16. One of the heavyweights was to go home early and it was Messi and his messy men who did. They may feel delighted not to have been humiliated by one of the favorites of the tournament.
Griezmann gave a signal of the ruthlessness of the French side when he rattled the goal post with a free-kick in just seven minutes but found the net five minutes later from the spot.
Kylian Mbappe had bolted from his own half, beating more than five Argentinian men on his path with his pace and skill until he was clipped by Rojo in the vital area for a well-deserved penalty.
Griezmann stepped up and with confidence threw Lloris one way and sent the ball another for an important opener for the French side.
In the 19th minute, Mbappe again outrun three Argentina defencemen after he latched on to a sweet long searching ball from Pogba but was brought down again just at the edge of the box. Pogba blew the resulting free-kick much to the relief of Argentina.
The Albiceleste had been quiet enjoy possession in their own half but creating nothing. Messi had been kept in check by Matuidi and Kante. If Argentina would score it had to come from another player and it had to be special to beat well-composed defence men, marshaled around Umtiti and Varane.
That moment came in the 41st minute and it was Angel Di Maria, who struck from 30 yards after he was left totally unmarked. With his cultured left foot, he curled a powerful one to the top left corner of the post and left Hugo Lloris flying in midair and touching nothing but picking the ball later on from his net.
If Argentina ended the first half on the high with a screamer, they started the second in fabulous fashion with a goal that was in no way classy but good enough to give the Albiceleste hope of qualifying into the last eight.
With just three minutes into the half, Gabriel Mercardo toe-poked a soft Messi shot for a wicked deflection for Argentina’s second goal.
France nearly equalized in the 55th minute after a howler by Fazio nearly gave Griezmann a gift but the stray pass towards Lloris had gone too acute for Griezmann to squeeze it through.
The Bleus lifted up their game and their effort yielded fruits in extraordinary fashion. Benjamin Pavard bent over a cross from the left in the 57th minute and fired a half-volley which flew past Armani for a great equalizer. 2-2 it was and game on.
In the 63rd minute, however, Mbappe punished a leaky Argentina defence by picking on a rebound, sneaking through a forest of legs before firing low in the six-yard, too low for the tall Lloris to bend.
Five minutes later the PSG man struck again this time, by crowning a total team effort with a well-placed strike from the right.
The French men combined well with a defense-splitting passes and when Giroud found Mbappe on the last line of attack, the Argentine defence had been caught pants down. Mbappe struck and put the game beyond the reach of the Argentines.
With the work almost done Didier Dechamps decided to take out his best man, Mbappe; Somehow, around the same time, Sampaoli, also decided, belatedly, to bring in one of his best men, Aguero in a desperate attempt to get a goal
With few minutes of playing time, Aguero showed his place was on the pitch and not on the bench when he gave the Albiceleste a lifeline with a fine header from close range but with just a minute of play left it was too little too late for a comeback.
Not even a last gasp of attack will give the Argentines any hope even if it sent the French a little bit on the edge but on the stroke of full time it was France who qualified ahead of Argentina.