Sports

UEFA Nations League: France beat Netherlands 2-1

Paris, Sep 10 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 9/10/2018 1:07:21 PM IST

Olivier Giroud ended his 10-match goalless run with the winner as world champions France secured a 2-1 victory over the Netherlands on their return to Paris. Ryan Babel looked to have spoiled the homecoming party in the capital with his first competitive international goal in 13 years to cancel out Kylian Mbappe’s first-half opener in the Nations League clash.

However, with 15 minutes remaining, Chelsea forward Giroud scored the 32nd goal of his international career, taking him past Zinedine Zidane with only Thierry Henry, Michel Platini and David Trezeguet ahead of him on France’s all-time list.

It also gave Didier Deschamps’ side the advantage in Group One of League A, following their goalless draw in Germany on Thursday.

The France coach named the same side which returned from Munich with a point and, with Antoine Griezmann pulling the strings from the number 10 position, they dominated against opponents who are rebuilding after failing to qualify for the World Cup.

Mbappe’s early jinking run created an opening on the angle on the right side of the penalty area, but his driven, near-post shot was batted away by Jasper Cillessen.

The breakthrough was not long in coming though as, in the 14th minute, Babel and Daley Blind failed to clear the danger created by a Blaise Matuidi’s left-wing cross and, when the ball was worked back out to the Juventus midfielder, he drilled a low cross into the six-yard box where Mbappe converted at the far post.

Mbappe, whose four shots in the first half were more than the entire Netherlands team, had a looping header comfortably claimed by Cillessen before France survived a penalty shout just past the half-hour mark.

Benjamin Pavard mistimed his tackle on Georginio Wijnaldum, but was probably saved by his Dutch opponent knocking the ball out of play a fraction before contact was made.

Wijnaldum caused problems for the hosts after the break, but, after evading both Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane on the right of the penalty area, he shot across goal and wide of the far post.

However, less than 60 seconds later Babel diverted home Kenny Tete’s cross after a good move down the Netherlands’ right and, despite Alphonse Areola getting a hand to the close-range shot, he could not keep it out. Incredibly it was the former Liverpool winger’s first competitive international goal since March 2005.

But Giroud rescued the hosts with a quarter of an hour remaining when he hooked his leg around Virgil van Dijk to volley home substitute Bernard Mendy’s left-wing cross, ending the longest drought of his international career.

Denmark beat Wales 2-0

Christian Eriksen’s double proved too much for Wales as they suffered a 2-0 defeat by Denmark in the Nations League on Sunday.

After a turbulent week for Denmark, whose players went on strike but returned for this game, the Tottenham playmaker fired home a classy opener (32) before scoring from the penalty spot (62) after Ethan Ampadu was adjudged to have handled inside the area. The result was a bit of a reality check for Wales and new boss Ryan Giggs after their impressive 4-1 win over the Republic of Ireland on Thursday in their Nations League opener.

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