Kylian Mbappe did not perform at his best against Poland despite a second-half brace that helped fire France into the quarter-finals, Didier Deschamps said.

With five goals in Qatar, Mbappe's career tally at the World Cup is now at nine at the age of 23, with only Just Fontaine (13) scoring more for France at the tournament – all of which came in the 1958 World Cup.

Despite his goalscoring exploits, Deschamps stated his belief Mbappe did not have his best performance.

"We know about Kylian. We've already seen him. He speaks on the football pitch," the coach said in the post-match press conference.

"He didn't have his best match tonight, I don't want to accuse him of anything, and he knows that himself. But he can change a match in a moment.

"He's playing with such joy. We want to share those smiles with him. France needed a great Kylian Mbappe tonight, and they got one."

The Paris Saint-Germain striker will share the headlines with Olivier Giroud, who opened the scoring against Poland to become his nation's all-time leading scorer with 52 goals – surpassing Thierry Henry's tally that had stood since 2009.

Giroud was a key member of France's squad in Russia in 2018, although he failed to score and now boasts four goals in Qatar, an impressive return considering he would likely have played a reduced role had Karim Benzema remained fit.

Deschamps hailed Giroud's efforts and impact but acknowledged he may well be surpassed by Mbappe further down the line. The France number 10 already has 33 international goals.

"Olivier has always been an important player. Four years ago he didn't score, but he was a very important player for us," Deschamps said. "There were difficult periods for him in his career.

"Today we're seeing his quality. He's often criticised but has managed to remain strong, mentally strong. It was a very difficult record, because it was Thierry Henry before him.

"There's a guy next to me [Mbappe] who might break it one day. To score so many goals at international level is an incredible achievement."

Olivier Giroud pledged to put his record-breaking 52nd France goal behind him after helping Les Bleus reach the World Cup quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Poland.

Giroud equalled Thierry Henry's tally of 51 France goals by scoring twice against Australia in his side's World Cup opener last month, and he went one better by opening the scoring with a neat finish at the Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday.

Kylian Mbappe then scored two outstanding goals as France maintained their record of advancing from all of their last-16 World Cup ties, with this sixth such win teeing up a meeting with England or Senegal.

Asked about his record-breaking strike by TF1, Giroud said he was simply relieved to have ended conversations about when his historic goal would arrive.

"My wife and my children were there, plus my childhood friend. It's a childhood dream to beat Thierry Henry like that," Giroud said.

"A lot of people told me it was coming, now I put it behind me and my obsession is to go as far as possible with the team.

"I was a little frustrated not to have been able to capitalise on one or two crosses that we made at the start of the match, so I really wanted to score this goal, just to stop talking about it!"

 

The victory means France remain on course to become the first team to retain the World Cup since Brazil did so in 1962, while Les Bleus have only lost one of their seven knockout games at the tournament under Didier Deschamps.

France lost several key players – including Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante – to injury ahead of the tournament, and Giroud believes strong team spirit has helped them cope.

"The adventure continues. We said to ourselves in the locker room that to live a magnificent experience together, we had to be united and be one," Giroud said.

"We were able to find the right words in the locker room, we have a great group of friends, it shows on the field. This team is rewarded for its efforts."

Midfielder Adrien Rabiot concurred, adding: "It makes me happy, you have to leave the pitch without regret, that's what I try to do at every match, as long as it lasts. 

"Above all, we must insist on solidarity and unity in this team, that's what makes us strong. If we continue like this, we can do great things."

Olivier Giroud scored his 52nd goal for France to become his country’s all-time top scorer and Kylian Mbappe added two more as they beat Poland 3-1 in the World Cup round of 16 on Sunday.

Giroud's 44th-minute strike at Al Thumama Stadium put him ahead of fellow former Arsenal and Les Bleus forward Thierry Henry for France.

Mbappe doubled the advantage for Didier Deschamps' men and added another before full-time to move two goals clear as the tournament's top scorer in Qatar.

Poland had earlier put up a fight against the reigning world champions and scored a last-kick consolation after Robert Lewandoski converted a retaken penalty.

A bright start from France was low on clear chances, though Giroud should have had his goal earlier but could not divert Ousmane Dembele's low cross from the right into the net.

Poland had opportunities of their own in the first half and were somehow denied in the 38th minute when Bartosz Bereszynski's cut-back from the left found Piotr Zielinski, who hit his shot straight at Hugo Lloris, before his follow-up was also blocked and then Jakub Kaminski saw his effort stopped by Raphael Varane.

Giroud had his moment just before the break when some neat passing around the box led to Mbappe playing a quick pass into the striker, who finished well past former Arsenal team-mate Wojciech Szczesny.

The 36-year-old had the ball in the net again just before the hour with a spectacular overhead kick, but the whistle had already gone for a foul on Szczesny.

Mbappe struck with 16 minutes remaining to ultimately seal the win, with nice work again from Giroud leading to Dembele finding Mbappe to the left of the penalty area, before the Paris Saint-Germain star curled the ball high past Szczesny into the near post.

The Golden Boot leader put the game beyond doubt in stoppage time, again receiving the ball to the left of the penalty area before placing it expertly into the top-right corner of the net.

Poland were awarded a last-minute penalty after a VAR check for handball against Dayot Upamecano, and despite seeing his first effort saved by Hugo Lloris, Lewandowski sent the goalkeeper the wrong way with his second attempt after Lloris was found to be off his line for the first.

Olivier Giroud scores goals, and this is what he has done across his career.

On Sunday, Giroud proved his timeless finishing qualities again when he overtook the great Thierry Henry to become France's all-time record goalscorer.

His first-half strike against Poland made it 52 goals in the shirt of Les Bleus, writing himself into the history books as France continued their defence of the World Cup in Qatar.

It is not something that many would have predicted years ago, with Giroud respected to a point, but never really being mentioned in the same breath as some of France's other attacking talent.

Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and even Antoine Griezmann often steal the headlines where the national team is concerned.

Giroud is considered to be a less glamorous name, which is quite the dichotomy considering there is a strong argument the Milan striker has the most impressive hair in world football.

The numbers do not lie, though, and the 36-year-old now stands alone atop the scoring charts for the world champions. Above Henry, Platini, Griezmann, Trezeguet, and so on.

After making a name for himself when leading Montpellier in their shock Ligue 1 title win in 2011-12, scoring 21 goals in 36 games, he made the move to Arsenal.

Giroud's time in the Premier League had ups and downs, but he still notched 105 goals for the Gunners in his five and a half seasons there, before moving across London to Chelsea and scoring another 39 in three and a half years at Stamford Bridge.

After heading to Serie A and Milan, there were still those left unconvinced by Giroud, though he has continued to score in Italy as he hit 11 in 29 league games in his debut season, helping the Rossoneri to win their first Scudetto since 2010-11.

He has another nine in 19 games in all competitions at club level this season, and has carried that form into the World Cup.

When the injured Benzema was confirmed to be out of Qatar 2022, there was panic among France fans as this year's Ballon d'Or winner would not be there to help them defend their title from Russia 2018.

However, Benzema also wasn't there in Russia. Giroud was.

 

His presence up front may not have brought Giroud any goals in that tournament, or even any shots on target – somewhat remarkably from 546 minutes on the pitch – but he more than played his part.

Giroud was a perfect foil for the teenage Mbappe, who thrived working off the big man's hold-up play, as did Griezmann as France went on to lift the World Cup for the second time, with Giroud creating seven chances from open play and recording one assist.

This time, though, Giroud seems more focused on being the main man in front of goal, and he is already putting himself in the discussion for the Golden Boot, with the record-breaking strike being his third in Qatar.

He may never be in the running for the Ballon d'Or, and is unlikely to be on many people's lists when selecting the all-time best French players.

But with the 52nd goal coming in his 117th game at international level, there is no denying that Giroud scores goals, and as of now, more than anyone else in France's history.

Olivier Giroud etched his name into the France history books as he became Les Bleus' all-time top scorer after netting against Poland at the World Cup.

The Milan striker equalled Thierry Henry's 51-goal record with a brace in a 4-1 win over Australia in his nation's World Cup opener, leaving him one shy of the outright benchmark.

That made Giroud, aged 36 years and 53 days, the second-oldest player to score a double at the World Cup, after Roger Milla, who did so in 1990 for Cameroon aged 38.

Giroud claimed the record outright with the opening goal in the round-of-16 clash against Poland, latching onto Kylian Mbappe's pass to fire Les Bleus ahead.

The former Chelsea and Arsenal striker would likely have not started for Didier Deschamps' side if it had not been for pre-tournament injuries to Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku.

Instead, Giroud and Kylian Mbappe have been tasked with carrying the attacking burden as France aim to defend their World Cup crown.

Didier Deschamps warned France must not underestimate Poland when they meet in the World Cup round of 16 on Sunday.

Les Bleus have won all five last-16 matches since the stage was introduced to the tournament back in 1986.

The holders are strong favourites to knock the Eagles out at Al Thumama Stadium this weekend in what will be the underdogs' first knockout World Cup knockout game for 36 years.

France are unbeaten in their past seven meetings with Poland, but Deschamps says there can be no complacency from his side in Doha.

"It's not a team we're used to meeting," he told FFF TV. "They have experienced players. Obviously, if there is one name to stand out, it's [Robert] Lewandowski, he's one of the best strikers in the world.

"But it's not just him, it's a team that has good organisation, a good athletic presence. We have three observers here who are following them closely, we will have all the details. Don't underestimate this team."

Deschamps rung the changes for France's final Group D match on Wednesday, which they surprisingly lost 1-0 to Tunisia.

Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Hugo Lloris, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann were among the players who dropped to the bench for that loss.

Poland will need to find a way of containing Mbappe, the joint-leading scorer in the tournament with three goals, while Giroud is one shy of becoming his country's all-time leading goalscorer as he currently stands level with Thierry Henry on 51.

The Eagles were beaten 2-0 by Argentina in their last Group C game on Wednesday but took second place.

Poland have faced the reigning champions twice in World Cup matches, beating Brazil 1-0 in 1974 and holding Germany to a goalless draw four years later.

A quarter-final showdown with England or Senegal will be the reward for whoever comes out on top.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

France - Antoine Griezmann

Griezmann continues to deliver for France time and time again. No player has created more chances than the 11 he has produced for Les Blues in this tournament.

The Atletico Madrid forward is the only player to create at least 10 chances in both this World Cup and Russia 2018 for France. He has already surpassed his total of 10 four years ago.

Poland - Wojciech Szczesny

Goalkeeper Szczesny has played a key role for Poland in Qatar, achieving a save percentage of 90. He had kept out each of his first 16 shots on target faced in the tournament prior to Alexis Mac Allister's goal for Argentina.

Szczesny saved a Lionel Messi penalty in midweek, ensuring he has stopped a spot-kick in each of his past two World Cup games. He could be in for a busy game, given France's quality going forward.

PREDICTION

While there have been shock results aplenty in this tournament, France will not be expected to slip up when they attempt to seal a place in the last eight.

Stats Perform's AI model gives the defending champions a 74.8 per cent chance of going through, with Poland at only 8.1 per cent to produce an upset.

Didier Deschamps recalled Raphael Varane to his starting XI for France's World Cup clash with Denmark.

Varane, who has not played since he was forced off with an injury in Manchester United's Premier League game with Chelsea on October 22, was one of three changes made to the France team for Saturday's game in Doha.

Deschamps confirmed on Friday that Varane had been fit to feature in the opening game, and had trained without any issues prior to France's second match of the tournament.  The former Real Madrid centre-back replaced Ibrahima Konate in France's XI.

Les Bleus head into the match at Stadium 974 knowing that victory would ensure their progression to the last 16.

The holders thrashed Australia 4-1 in their opening Group D game, though suffered another injury blow in that match, with Lucas Hernandez sustaining a serious knee injury.

Hernandez was replaced by his brother, Theo, and the latter started at left-back against the Danes, with Barcelona defender Jules Kounde replacing Bayern Munich's Benjamin Pavard at right-back.

Olivier Giroud will become France's all-time leading goalscorer the next time he finds the net, and the Milan forward was given the nod up top, leading a line that also included Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand made four changes.

Thomas Delaney was injured in the draw with Tunisia on Tuesday and makes way for Mikkel Damsgaard, while Victor Nelsson replaced Simon Kjaer in the defence and Jesper Lindstrom came in for Andreas Skov Olsen.

Andreas Cornelius missed a fantastic chance to seal the points for Denmark against Tunisia, hitting the post from a yard out, but he was handed a start in place of Kasper Dolberg.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand is not frightened by Kylian Mbappe but conceded there is only so much you can do to stop the France striker.

Mbappe scored in Les Bleus' 4-1 win against Australia in their World Cup Group D opener on Tuesday and looked razor sharp alongside Olivier Giroud.

Hjulmand's men ground out a goalless draw against Tunisia, although keeping another clean sheet against the defending champions may be trickier to achieve.

Asked if he was frightened at the thought of trying to keep Mbappe quiet, Hjulmand replied: "I don't think it's good to be frightened. We have plans to stop him. At Parken [in September] we had a good plan, a good structure. He had two or three chances and no matter what plans you have against top players, you can't keep them down.

"We have carried out plenty of analysis to try to minimise his impact, we don't want him to show the talent he has."

Hjulmand is hoping some insider knowledge will also help stifle France's threat with captain Simon Kjaer a team-mate of Giroud at Milan.

He added: "I hope it's an advantage. A player like Giroud is very good at what he does. It's a pleasure seeing so many strikers in the latter stages of their careers showing how to move in the box, showing how to be dangerous in their positioning and showing how to finish in the box.

"Giroud is better now than he was before, he is very dangerous. Simon knows him very well and we have been talking about the small details."

Denmark enjoyed back-to-back wins against Didier Deschamps' side in the Nations League earlier this year but Hjulmand knows facing them at a World Cup is a different proposition.

"We have tested them a couple of times but this is a different tournament," he said. "But we know that if we play our best we have a chance of getting a good result.

"To be able to do that, we have to take a big step forward in quality from the first match."

Denmark and France kick off six hours after the other Group D encounter between Australia and Tunisia, and Hjulmand admitted the result of that game could affect his approach to the game.

"I won't watch that game, but I will obviously know the outcome as it will influence how we approach our game," he said.

"I am only really talking about the last 25 minutes. We are focused on winning the match but the other game will influence our approach."

Didier Deschamps has defended his decision to substitute Olivier Giroud in France's World Cup win over Australia, delaying his bid to become France's all-time leading goalscorer outright.

Giroud equalled Thierry Henry's record of 51 goals for France with a brace on Tuesday, helping Les Bleus fight back to post a 4-1 win in their Group D contest.

However, the striker was replaced by Marcus Thuram in the closing stages, meaning he will have to wait until Saturday's meeting with Denmark for another chance to seize the record for himself. 

Deschamps was defensive when asked why he withdrew Giroud in his post-match press conference, responding: "Would you like to take my place and be the coach? 

"Olivier Giroud did what he does best, he scored goals. You have to manage a lot of things as a coach.

"We have another match in four days and we'd already scored four goals, so sometimes it's good to give someone else a chance and give him a rest.

"You tend to talk about records a lot, he tends to focus on what he does on the pitch. 

"He was very effective tonight, which is great for him, he's useful with the way he links up with the other attackers in our team."

As well as claiming a slice of France history, Giroud – aged 36 years and 53 days – became the second-oldest player to score a World Cup brace, after Roger Milla did so twice at the 1990 tournament when 38 years old.

France initially looked unlikely to make a positive start to their World Cup defence, with Adrien Rabiot having to cancel out Craig Goodwin's opener before Giroud took centre stage.

Deschamps was pleased with Les Bleus' response to going behind after witnessing other sides fail to fight back in the tournament's opening round of fixtures.

"I think we began the match well, we linked up well in the first few minutes but we let in a goal which we should have avoided," Deschamps said.

"It was tough, but in the second half we showed a lot more confidence, we created a lot more chances and scored four goals, so of course that is good. We could have scored more, but it's a very good beginning.

"The first match is always vital, so I have to congratulate the team. We saw some earlier games where teams were unable to respond, but we did. We showed strength of character."

Tuesday began with one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history as Saudi Arabia beat Argentina 2-1, but Deschamps said that surprise result had no bearing on France's approach.

"The players saw that match, but you have to focus on the opponent that's in front of you," he added.

Olivier Giroud feels "blessed" to have matched Thierry Henry's France goalscoring record with a brace against Australia that marked his first World Cup goals since 2014.

Giroud was a key part of the France side that won the title at Russia 2018, but he failed to score across seven matches.

The Milan striker's only previous World Cup goal had been the opener in a group-stage rout of Switzerland eight years ago, a meagre return from 12 appearances in the competition.

But Giroud never doubted himself, insisting after Tuesday's double in a 4-1 win he had not received the same level of chances in 2018.

He accrued 1.7 expected goals from five shots at Al Janoub Stadium, having had chances worth just 1.2 xG across the entirety of the previous World Cup.

"Not really," Giroud replied when asked if he was relieved. "I just try to bring what I can do to the team.

"When I get the opportunity, I try to always put it in the back of the net. This time, I couldn't miss, because I received great balls.

"If you watch the World Cup 2018, I didn't get as many chances as I would hope. Those were different kinds of games. It's very good for confidence for the next stage."

Giroud's second goal from a Kylian Mbappe cross was his 51st for France, matching Henry's record return.

"I don't like to speak about myself," Giroud said. "I will say that we started the competition well. It was massively important to win this first game.

"We started the game in not the best way, but we've shown a great character and we bounced back straight away, which was very important.

"Personally, obviously, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to be next to Titi Henry now."

He added to TF1: "It's a source of great pride, I don't intend to stop there. I hope to continue in the competition so that I can help the team achieve our goal."

Olivier Giroud equalled Thierry Henry's France goalscoring record as Les Bleus fought back to begin their World Cup defence with a 4-1 victory over Australia on Tuesday.

Having lost Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and others to injury during a chaotic build-up to the tournament, France suffered another blow when Craig Goodwin fired Australia into an early lead.

But the holders responded well, with the impressive Adrien Rabiot recording a goal and an assist – the latter for Giroud – during a first-half turnaround.  

Kylian Mbappe then made the points safe with a fine glancing header before teeing up Giroud to nod home his landmark 51st goal as France took control of Group D.

Goodwin side-footed Mathew Leckie's cross into the roof of the net after nine minutes in a dream start for Australia but a quickfire France double turned the game around.

Rabiot contributed to both goals, nodding home Theo Hernandez's deep cross after 27 minutes before his cut-back allowed Giroud to tap in.

The end of an entertaining first half featured clear chances at both ends, with Mbappe firing over from close range before Jackson Irvine headed against the post.

Giroud went close to a spectacular second when he sent an acrobatic effort wide shortly after the break, while Antoine Griezmann saw a shot cleared off the goalline as France continued to press.

France finally had a deserved third goal after 68 minutes, with Mbappe diverting Ousmane Dembele's cross in off the post to clinch the win.

Mbappe sent in a fine cross for France's fourth just three minutes later, but the moment belonged to Giroud as he powered a header beyond Mathew Ryan to earn a slice of Les Bleus history.

What does it mean? Champions make strong start

France approached Tuesday's match looking to buck the recent trend of slow starts from World Cup holders – the reigning champions had only started with a win at three of the last 12 tournaments (D4 L5).

Given their chaotic preparations and Australia's early opener, Didier Deschamps may have been fearing the worst, but Les Bleus were ultimately good value for their win, which saw them take control of Group D following Denmark's draw with Tunisia.

Giroud matches Henry

Had Real Madrid's Ballon d'Or-winning forward Benzema been fit to feature against the Socceroos, Giroud would likely have been the player to miss out on a place in Deschamps' team.

However, Giroud – who played a key role in France's 2018 heroics in Russia – helped himself to a brace to draw level with Henry's tally of 51 goals for his country, hitting that number in eight fewer caps than the Arsenal great.

Rabiot takes centre stage

Injuries to Pogba and his 2018 World Cup-winning midfield partner N'Golo Kante opened the door for Rabiot to assume a central role in Qatar, and he did not let France down in their Group D opener.

Rabiot took the game by the scruff of the neck before the break, becoming the first France player to both score and assist a goal on his World Cup debut since Christophe Dugarry against South Africa in 1998

What's next?

France take on Denmark in their next Group D game on Saturday, while Australia face Tunisia on the same day.

Olivier Giroud highlighted the importance of replacing Paul Pogba's influence on the France squad ahead of their bid to defend the World Cup.

Having lifted their second World Cup in 2018, France are considered one of the main contenders to emerge victorious in Qatar, though injuries to Pogba and other key players could harm their chances.

Pogba has not made a single competitive appearance since returning to Juventus in July, and was ruled out of the tournament after undergoing delayed surgery on a knee injury.

The midfielder, who scored in the World Cup final against Croatia four years ago, will be joined on the sidelines by N'Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe and Christopher Nkunku, and Giroud believes it is time for other players to assume senior roles.

"We will miss Paul Pogba a lot, like Kante and Kimpembe," Giroud said on Thursday. 

"Paul takes up a lot of space in this France team with his personality, but I am convinced that there are other young leaders who can emerge.

"I too will play my role of big brother for the youngest, be available for them, and speak up when necessary."

With 49 goals in 114 international appearances, Giroud is second in France's all-time goalscoring charts behind Thierry Henry (51), and is also his country's fifth-most capped player.

Giroud arrives at his third World Cup in fine form after scoring nine times for Milan this season, and will delay any decision regarding his international future until after the tournament.

"I feel good physically, in my game, in my club and in the France team. It's a period of splendour for me. It's a gift to feel like this at 36," Giroud said.

"I don't set myself any limits, it could be my last competition, but I don't want to announce anything. We'll see after the World Cup. My motivation to stay at the highest level is intact."

France fell short of expectations when they suffered a last-16 exit at Euro 2020 last year, and Giroud believes it would be wrong to consider them favourites to triumph in Qatar. 

"It's a childhood dream, when you have the chance to participate, you want to go to the end. I was lucky that it came true in 2018," Giroud added.

"Having the opportunity to play a third World Cup with this young, talented group gives us a lot of hope. We have a lot of hope but also humility, we do not make ourselves favourites. 

"We know that there are very big teams in this World Cup. I have a lot of confidence in this group."

Stefano Pioli believes the character of his Milan side is "second to none" after the reigning Serie A champions secured a late win against Spezia on Saturday.

Olivier Giroud came off the bench at San Siro to score an 89th-minute winner in the 2-1 victory, though was then sent off for a second booking after removing his shirt while celebrating.

Pioli was full of praise for the mental strength of his team after the win, which took Milan up to second and back to within six points of league leaders Napoli after the latter beat Atalanta.

"Our mentality is to believe in what we do," he told Sky. "As far as character is concerned, we are second to none."

Theo Hernandez put Milan in front with a first-half volley from close range, only for Daniel Maldini - son of Milan legend and technical director Paolo - to equalise against his parent club with Spezia's first away goal of the season.

Maldini's goal came 5,333 days after his father's last one at San Siro in March 2008.

Pioli did not seem to mind Maldini scoring, particularly because his team eventually secured the win, and declared that his father was able to experience the best of both worlds, with his son scoring and his team winning.

"Daniel Maldini's goal? It was the perfect evening for Paolo," the Rossoneri head coach joked.

"The match was difficult, we made it complicated... I liked the first half, [but] we have to work to close the game early."

On Giroud's red, with the French striker later claiming he had forgotten he was on a yellow card, Pioli said: "He is a very strong guy, and I am very happy with his performances.

"Tonight, he was naive."

Olivier Giroud was "angry" with himself for forgetting he had already been booked when he whipped off his shirt to celebrate scoring Milan's late winner against Spezia.

Giroud came off the bench to snatch a 2-1 victory for the Rossoneri with an 89th-minute volley after being picked out by a superb Sandro Tonali pass.

The France striker was then given his marching orders, having been shown a yellow card six minutes before scoring his decisive goal.

Giroud has been in the thick of the action this week, scoring two goals and providing as many assists in a 4-0 thrashing of Salzburg that put Stefano Pioli's side in the Champions League round of 16.

The 36-year-old was frustrated that his earlier caution had slipped his mind after his clinical finish in the closing stages at San Siro.

"It was certainly a very nice goal, which came thanks to Tonali's assist," he told Sky Sport. "We wanted to win this match, the important thing is to have three points more in the standings but I'm angry because I forgot about the first yellow card."

Asked if he was not thinking clearly due to the ecstasy of scoring the winner, he replied: "Yes, football is like that. The adrenaline and the happiness of having given victory to the team after a difficult match has affected me.

"In my head I am still a child, but I have great faith in the team and also on Tuesday [against Cremonese] we will fight to win the three points."

Theo Hernandez put Milan in front with a first-half volley from close range, but Daniel Maldini equalised against his parent club with Spezia's first away goal of the season.

Tonali had a goal ruled out at 1-1 for a foul on M'Bala Nzola by Fikayo Tomori following a VAR check, but Giroud moved them six points behind Napoli in second place after the leaders beat Atalanta 2-1 earlier on Saturday.

Olivier Giroud scored a late winner and was sent off for his celebration as Milan beat Spezia 2-1 to go second in Serie A.

Theo Hernandez put the Rossoneri on course for back-to-back wins after they hammered Salzburg to qualify for the Champions League round of 16 in midweek.

Daniel Maldini, son of Milan legend Paolo, then stunned his parent club by scoring Spezia's first away goal of the season to equalise in the second half.

There was late drama at San Siro, though, as Giroud came off the bench to volley an 89th-minute winner before being shown a second yellow card for whipping off his shirt.

 

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