Football Commentator & Columnist
Martin Tyler's World Cup diary: Kylian Mbappe's brilliance
Last Updated: 01/07/18 9:19pm
Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler reflects on Kylian Mbappe's brilliance against Argentina and Russia's remarkable shootout win.
After five games in five days as the group phase of the 21st World Cup came to a conclusion, I am now halfway through a stint of four in four in the round of 16. It is such a pleasure and seeing the joy on the faces of the most important members of the football community, the fans, makes light of the travelling involved.
Kazan is a remarkably beautiful city and the stunning lines of the new Arena somehow blend perfectly with the historic architecture. I am usually a football-only man on these trips but Russia is mesmerising me. I wish I had the words to describe the majesty of the buildings.
Kazan was the perfect setting for a spectacular game. Didier Deschamps is a conservative coach but Argentina goals either side of half-time meant that their excellent attacking players had to be given full rein.
It is too much of simplification to say that we saw a passing of the baton from the departing Lionel Messi to the emerging Kylian Mbappe but it felt like that at the final whistle.
Then, of course, it was Cristiano Ronaldo's turn to take his leave at the end of quite a day for Paris St Germain. Two magnificent goals from Edinson Cavani which meant Uruguay sent Portugal home, followed that brilliant brace from Mbappe.
Also, Angel Di Maria, another PSG star, hit that fantastic long-range goal for Argentina.
With huge demands for flights back to Moscow I wondered whether I would make my next assignment, Spain v Russia at the Luzhniki.
My schedule departure time was 10.10am for a 17.00pm kick-off.
Storms in the capital the day before heightened the risk of delays. There was also the issue of getting into the city when I arrived from the rather distant main airport.
Commentators learn to live with their mistakes but one unrelenting fear for all the fraternity is not getting to the game on time. I still have bad dreams about insurmountable problems which mean I am going to miss kick-offs.
When I arrived at Kazan airport it was crammed, everyone was going to Moscow.
I noticed that mine was one of four flights in an hour around my scheduled departure time. Air traffic controllers are rightly a cautious breed. For the first time in almost three weeks at this World Cup, I stopped smiling. Optimism was fast disappearing.
Oh ye of little faith! We boarded on time and took off on time.
Even when I was wedged in a middle seat against the largest fellow traveller you could imagine the stewardess found me a spare place. We landed on the dot at 11.40am. The high-speed train from the airport and the excellent Moscow Metro did the rest.
It was worth the effort. Russia are still celebrating a famous victory. Spain's obsession with short passing played into the hands of hosts. Now none of the last three World Cup winners are involved.
Their goalkeeper-captain Igor Akinfeev was the hero. From Russia With Gloves.
To be continued…