Argentina's Javier Mascherano retires from international football after loss to France

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Javier Mascherano, Argentina’s most-capped player (147 appearances) has retired from international football after the 4-3 loss against France on Saturday in the World Cup.

Speaking after the game, the 34-year old said, “It’s time to say goodbye.”

“I hope that all the lads who follow in my footsteps can achieve what they are aiming for. There are no more illusions for me,” he told Argentina’s TyC sports channel.

Mascherano made his international debut in 2003 and went on to appear 147 times for his country.

The veteran midfielder though also received a yellow card in the last-16 game against France.

Mascherano departed from Barcelona after playing 334 games for the Catalan club and joined Herbei China Fortune, a club in the Chinese Super League.

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Dele Alli confident about England's penalty hopes at the World Cup

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Dele Alli wants to a take a spot-kick if England’s World Cup fate comes down to a penalty shootout.

The knockout phase brings with it the spectre of penalties, which Gareth Southgate‘s men have been preparing for since March.

England have lost six of their seven shootouts at major tournaments, but Alli is confident this time will be different should it come to it.

“We have been taking some penalties after training and looking into things,” he said ahead of the last-16 clash with Colombia.

“But obviously we don’t want to give too much away.

“We’re confident and we’re looking to change things.

“I took one against Southampton (at Tottenham). I think everyone wants to step up and help the team as much as we can.

“Whatever is right at the time, if I’m on the pitch, I want to take one and I’ll ask and try and take one.”

Wing-back Kieran Trippier has been the Three Lions’ set-piece star during the tournament and would surely be among the squad’s five preferred takers.

He spoke confidently about England’s prospects of succeeding where so many of their predecessors have failed, adding: “When it comes to it, whoever is selected will step up and put it in the back of the net.

“After every session we just practise. Stick to one place and put it there. You’ve just got to feel confident when you step up and try to tuck it away.”

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France hero Kylian Mbappe plays down Pele comparisons after win over Argentina

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France hero Kylian Mbappe vowed to keep his feet on the ground despite matching a 60-year-old record set by Pele during his side’s sensational 4-3 victory over Argentina in the World Cup‘s last 16.

The 19-year-old’s second half double effectively sealed his side’s progress to the quarter-finals and also made him the first teenager to score two goals in a finals match since the Brazilian great in 1958.

Mbappe said in the post-match press conference: “It’s flattering to be the second one after Pele but let’s put things into context – Pele is in another category.

“But is is good to be amongst these people and to score in knockout matches. At a World Cup you have all the top level players so it is an opportunity to show what you can do and what you’re abilities are.”

Antoine Griezmann’s early penalty put France in front before Argentina replied through a stunning Angel Di Maria strike and a fortunate deflection off Gabriel Mercado either side of the half-time break.

Benjamin Pavard equalised for France before Mbappe’s two strikes around the hour mark turned the match on its head, with Sergio Aguero’s injury time header coming too late for Argentina.

Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano wasted no time in announcing his international retirement after the  game after winning a record 147 caps for his country.

Mascherano told Argentinian TV: “This whole story is over, and from now on I am a fan of the Argentine team, and I hope these guys can win something in the future.”

Beleaguered Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is likely to have any decision on his own future taken out of his hands, but he cut a defiant figure in the wake of his side’s defeat.

“This is very painful, especially because the players have made a huge effort,” said Sampaoli, who is widely reported to have lost influence on his key players since their abysmal 3-0 group stage loss to Croatia.

Sampaoli added: “It was a very difficult game but we have not achieved our goal here in Russia. I’m sad, I’m frustrated – I think that’s quite normal. (But) I won’t decide my future today.”

With Mascherano gone and Lionel Messi also widely believed to be considering his international future, the focus will switch back to a new star of the game in Mbappe.

France boss Didier Deschamps said: “I am very happy for Mbappe and he has a lot of room to make progress. In such an important match he has shown his talent.

“There is an excellent mentality in this group and we did everything to go further.

“I am very proud because they have been preparing for weeks and months. We couldn’t miss it and we didn’t.”

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