France held 0-0 draw as Mbappe rides bench

SunStar Soccer
SunStar Soccer

LEIPZIG, Germany (AP) — Kylian Mbappé watched from the substitutes’ bench as France and the Netherlands finished 0-0 in a heavyweight European Championship clash on Friday.

Antoine Griezmann missed France’s best chances while Xavi Simons had a goal ruled out for the Dutch in the first goalless draw of the tournament.

It leaves both teams on four points in Group D after their second match. It also ensured Poland was the first team eliminated. Poland was beaten by Austria 3-1 earlier Friday and is assured of finishing bottom of the group, even if it beats France in its final group game.

France’s buildup was dominated by speculation on whether Mbappé would play after the team captain broke his nose in their opening 1-0 win over Austria.

Mbappé trained wearing a face mask on Thursday and coach Didier Deschamps was optimistic he’d be available. But Deschamps evidently decided it was not worth the risk to play Mbappé in a game his team had no need to win.

“Kylian is doing well. He’s getting better with each day. If it was a decisive game I would have thought twice about him playing,” Deschamps acknowledged. “It’s a risk for him. With each day that that passes, we are getting to a point where it’s better for him. I thought the wiser decision was to keep him on the bench.”

France enjoyed its best period of pressure after the break, when Aurélien Tchouaméni headed over, goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen denied Griezmann from close range, and Ousmane Dembélé went close.

Then Xavi fired the ball in at the other end in the 69th on a rebound after Mike Maignan saved Memphis Depay’s effort. It set off wild Dutch celebrations that sent beer cups and their contents flying into the Leipzig sky. But the fans’ elation was quickly deflated because Denzel Dumfries, who was offside, was adjudged after a lengthy VAR check to have obstructed Maignan from attempting to save Xavi’s shot.

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman thought otherwise and felt the goal should have been allowed.

Griezmann had the best of France’s early chances, forcing a save from Verbruggen before he and Adrien Rabiot somehow contrived to miss when it seemed easier to score. Rabiot had only the goalkeeper to beat but he attempted a pass instead to Griezmann, who fell over trying to hit it from close range.

The French team, which needed an own goal to beat Austria, has yet to score at Euro 2024. / AP


No stories found.

Just in

No stories found.

Branded Content

No stories found.
SunStar Publishing Inc.