Mbappé haunted by France loss, not bitter toward Argentina

By JEROME PUGMIRE

PARIS (AP) — Kylian Mbappé may always be haunted by France’s loss in the World Cup final, but says he bears no bitterness over the way Argentina celebrated and won’t let the defeat hold him back with Paris Saint-Germain.

Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has been criticized for the excessive tone of his celebrations. He carried a doll with Mbappé’s face on it while standing alongside teammate Lionel Messi as Argentina paraded the trophy back home. Martinez, who also made a crude gesture after winning the Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper, was filmed mocking Mbappé in the team dressing room after the game.

“Those celebrations aren’t my problem. You shouldn’t waste energy on such futile things,” Mbappé said after PSG’s win against Strasbourg on Wednesday night. “The most important thing is to give my best for the club.”

Mbappé became only the second player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final but ended up on the losing side as Messi’s Argentina won a tense penalty shootout following a wild 3-3 draw on Dec. 18.

Mbappé converted his spot kick but was inconsolable after the defeat, slumping in a chair and then walking around in a daze.

“I don’t think (the defeat) will ever really be swallowed. But as I told my (PSG) coach and teammates, there’s no reason that my club pays the price for a failure with the national team,” Mbappé said. “It was a complicated time … (But) PSG isn’t responsible for our defeat. I tried to come back with the best energy possible, being as positive as possible.”

He showed his composure from the penalty spot once again by scoring a spot kick deep into injury time as the league leader scraped a 2-1 home win against Strasbourg.

“I didn’t have an amazing game, but I kept believing, pushing,” Mbappé said, adding that it was a different kind of pressure taking PSG’s 96th-minute penalty.

“They’re different emotions, different scenarios. This time it was a penalty for the victory,” he said. “The message is clear: no matter what happened with the national team, PSG is something else and I’m determined to bring all the trophies back to the capital.”

He is looking forward to playing with Messi again.

“We’ll wait for Leo to come back so that we can start winning games (together) again and score goals,” he said.

Messi was given extra time off by PSG to celebrate in Argentina and is expected back in training early next week.

FILE (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez, File)– France’s Kylian Mbappe sits on the bench at the end of the World Cup final soccer match between Argentina and France at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Sunday, Dec.18, 2022.

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