Olivier Giroud Stunner Sends France to First UEFA Nations League Win

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Olivier Giroud Stunner Sends France to First UEFA Nations League Win

Olivier Giroud scored the winner as world champions France made a winning return to Paris with a 2-1 Nations League victory over the Netherlands at the Stade de France.

Alphonse Areola started again as under-pressure captain Hugo Lloris watched from the stands with an injury.

The victory came in the Nations League Group A game at the Stade de France, where a jubilant atmosphere was created by the post-match parade of the World Cup trophy.

The Netherlands were on the back foot for most of the first half in a tournament which may offer their best chance of qualifying for the 2020 European Championship.

Mbappe, a star from Russia, scored in the 14th minute when Blaise Matuidi’s second cross in quick succession was turned in at the back post.

In the second half, France seemed in control until Ryan Babel finished a ruthless counterattack by directing a cross past Areola, before a rare, brilliant Giroud strike took all three points.

It ensured France made a winning return to home soil in their first competitive outing since beating Croatia 4-2 to win their second World Cup in July.

TALKING POINT: Do the best players care about the Nations League?

So soon after the World Cup, this seems to be a backdoor entrance to the 2020 European Championships. France know they will be there regardless, and appeared to fall into a slumber once they took the lead before being shocked back into action.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Olivier Giroud (France)

Olivier Giroud had offered almost nothing for most of the match but he was on hand for yet another crucial intervention. His first goal in 10 matches could be vital if France are to win yet another trophy.

"The victory is the most important thing for the party to be really beautiful," France coach Didier Deschamps told broadcaster M6 after the game. I'm very happy for Olivier. It happens that strikers have periods when they are less effective.

"I said before the World Cup, Olivier is often unjustly criticised. We cannot ask him to do what other attackers do, but he is very important to the team. It is when he is not there that we realise his value."

PLAYER RATINGS

France: Areola 6, Hernandez 6, Pavard 6, Umtiti 6, Varane 6, Kante 6, Pogba 6, Matuidi 7, Griezmann 6, Mbappe 7, Giroud 7. Subs: Mendy 7, N’Zonzi 6, Dembele 6.

Netherlands: Cillessen 6, Blind 6, Van Dijk 6, De Ligt 6, F. De Jong 6, Propper 6, Babel 7, Tete 6, Wijnaldum 6, Promes 6, Memphis 6. Subs: Vormer 6, Janmaat 6, L. De Jong 6.

KEY EVENTS

11’ - MBAPPE VOLLEY - Mbappe meets a cross from the right with a first-time volley, but it's straight at Cillessen. An excellent, but difficult, chance.

12’ - HERNANDEZ SHOT - Hernandez strides forward into the box and sends a shot across goal that Cillessen is right behind.

14’ - GOAL! France 1-0 Netherlands. Mbappe scores - Matuidi gets behind the defence, the cross is not properly cleared and it's back to Matuidi in the box. He plays it across the six-yard box and it gives Mbappe a simple finish.

59’ - GRIEZMANN SHOT - Mbappe plays in Griezmann to his left, and he wallops a firm strike from distance wide of the near post.

67’ - GOAL! France 1-1 Netherlands. Babel scores - Tete is released down the right wing, puts in a first time cross, and Babel has raced into the box to angle his shin towards goal, and levels the match.

75’ - GOAL! France 2-1 Netherlands. Giroud scores - Mendy whips in a cross from the left and Giroud meets in near the penalty spot, hooking the ball to the far post.

KEY STAT

This is the fifth successive victory for France over the Netherlands.

Source: eurosport