Kylian Mbappe scored four goals in France’s World Cup qualifying match against Kazakhstan on Saturday, finally getting his hands on football’s most coveted prize: a 10/10 rating from L’Equipe.
L’Equipe is infamous for its stingy match ratings, and Mbappe was only awarded a 9/10 after a stunning hat-trick display at the Camp Nou as PSG thrashed Barcelona in the Champions League earlier this year.
But his latest golden performance, which sent France to Qatar 2022, was deemed sufficiently good for full marks by the French publication.
We’ve rounded up the 12 players to be handed a perfect 10 in L’Equipe’s player ratings.
Kylian Mbappe – France vs Kazakhstan, 2021
The level of the opposition might be a little questionable, but there was no doubt about the brilliance of Mbappe’s display.
As well as the four goals, there was a very unselfish assist to set up Karim Benzema.
The only thing better than the performance itself might have been the goal he scored in training beforehand.
Serge Gnabry – Bayern vs Tottenham, 2019
We’re not saying L’Equipe went all soft, but Gnabry was the third player to receive a 10/10 rating in 2019.
Admittedly, it would have been harsh to give the 24-year-old anything less after he hit four goals past Tottenham in their own backyard.
Lucas Moura – Spurs vs Ajax, 2019
Dusan Tadic – Ajax vs Real Madrid, 2019
Some of the goalfests and ridiculous second-leg comebacks in the Champions League over the last couple of years have us believing there’s a glitch in the very fabric of football, but Tadic’s showing against Real Madrid was something else entirely – well, at least until the semi-finals and Lucas Moura came around.
Tadic, undoubtedly a talent, looked to have lost his touch as he put in a series of flat performances as Southampton struggled against relegation in 2017-18. The next season he’s giving Toni Kroos and Luka Modric nightmares and eliminating Real Madrid while leading the line for Ajax’s band of baby-faced cherubs.
His top-corner strike to make it 3-0 to Ajax, putting the tie beyond Madrid, was exquisite. But that wasn’t even the highlight of his performance. That was when he drove through midfield, pirouetted past Casemiro, and placed a perfectly-weighted through ball into the path of David Neres.
After Ajax’s 4-1 Bernabeu victory, Tadic became the first player since 1997, and only the fourth ever, to earn a 10/10 from L’Equipe by scoring fewer than four goals.
Neymar – PSG vs Dijon, 2018
Fitness issues have prevented Neymar from having quite the impact for PSG on the biggest stage, at least until he helped the Parisiens reach the final in 2020.
It’s probably a fair assessment that PSG would have gone on to dominate French football with or without him, but nevertheless he superstar quality has often dazzled Ligue 1 spectators, with no examples better than his ludicrous performance against Dijon midway through his debut season.
Not only did he score four goals, but he assisted two in an 8-0 rout.
Carlos Eduardo – Nice vs Guingamp, 2014
The Portuguese midfielder hasn’t exactly had the most glittering career, moving around Europe with short spells at various clubs before moving to Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal FC in 2015.
Still, if nothing else, he received a perfect player rating in 2014 for his five-goal showing in a 7-2 win over Guingamp while he was on loan at Nice.
If there’s one thing to learn from this, it’s that L’Equipe really really love players that score a hatful of goals in one game.
Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid, 2013
At Real Madrid, Jose Mourinho had done well to end the domestic dominance of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, winning the La Liga title in 2012, and he took them one step further in Europe – now they were reaching semi-finals every year rather than getting knocked out the earlier stages by Lyon.
But he couldn’t do what his successors Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane would at Real Madrid and deliver them a Champions League trophy. In his third and final season with Los Blancos, an unstoppable performance from Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski denied them in the semi-finals.
The Polish striker had already won a couple of Bundesliga titles under Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund, but this was the night he announced himself to Europe as an elite No.9. A defence featuring Pepe, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane simply couldn’t cope with him as he put away four goals.
It’s Robert Lewandowski’s birthday today. Here he is smashing four past Real Madrid for Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League semis. The second and third goals are especially tasty. pic.twitter.com/THEkk16ulZ
— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) August 21, 2020
Lionel Messi – Barcelona vs Arsenal, 2010, & Bayer Leverkusen, 2012
L’Equipe had gone 13 years without giving the fabled 10/10 to any player, for any game – none during the best years of Ronaldinho, Zidane, Shevchenko – but then came Lionel Messi, who became the first and only player to be given a perfect 10 twice.
The first came against Arsenal at the Camp Nou in 2010 after a 2-2 draw in the first leg of a Champions League quarter-final, as he scored all four goals in Barcelona’s 4-1 win.
The Argentine hit levels unseen that night, and you could only feel sorry for Manuel Almunia as he slotted the ball through his legs for the fourth.
“He made the impossible possible,” said Arsene Wenger that night. “He has six or seven years in front of him, touch wood that nothing happens to him, and he can reach unbelievable levels.”
Two years later against Bayer Leverkusen, he went one better and scored five, becoming the first player to do so in the Champions League era.
The performance had everything you’d want from Messi in one game: jinking runs, perfectly-placed shots from outside the box, a dink and a lob.
Lars Windfeld – Aarhus vs Nantes, 1997
The second goalkeeper to be awarded a perfect score, Lars Windfeld had a relatively low-key career in the Danish domestic game, never earning an international cap due to Peter Schmeichel’s years of dominance.
Nantes versus Aarhus in the first knockout round of the 1997-98 UEFA Cup is not exactly a match-up that was destined to be remembered, but it will go down in history as the game in which Windfeld pulled out an otherworldly performance to give the Danish side a narrow away win to take them through after a 2-2 draw in the first leg.
Oleg Salenko – Russia vs Cameroon, 1994
Salenko won the Golden Boot at USA ’94 largely down to one unforgettable game – five of the Russian’s six goals in the tournament were against Cameroon. He became the first and only player to score five goals in one World Cup match.
The 6-1 mauling of Cameroon wasn’t enough to see Russia qualify out of the group stage, having already lost their first two games, while Salenko never went on to make another appearance for the national team.
Franck Sauzee – France U21s vs Greece U21s, 1988
France won the 1988 Under-21 World Cup before the senior team did so a decade later, but the standout player in the 1988 final against Greece wasn’t one that would go on to feature in that famous Les Blues team, unlike team-mate Laurent Blanc.
France’s Under-21s had been held to a goalless goal draw by Greece in the first leg of the 1988 final, but in the second leg a 22-year-old Franck Sauzee was the outstanding youngster: he scored two absolute thunderbolts to put his team ahead and was generally a menace throughout.
He went on to receive 39 caps for the national team, the last of which came in 1993, as he spent the majority of his club career as a Ligue 1 journeyman before ending it as a cult hero for Hibs at the turn of the century. Famous Hibbees fanatic Irvine Welsh even penned a love letter to him.
He certainly left an impression at L’Equipe: in a list of the 100 best ever French players published in 2018, Sauzee was named ahead of Paul Pogba and Nicolas Anelka in the ranking.
Bruno Martini – France U21s vs Greece U21s, 1988
No, not the Brazilian EDM DJ, but the legendary Auxerre goalkeeper and Fabian Barthez’s predecessor between the sticks for the national team.
Sauzee wasn’t the only one to get a perfect score in the French Under-21’s victory over Greece in the final, with Martini drawing plenty of praise for helping them keep a clean sheet. L’Equipe haven’t given two perfect scores in the same game since.