France offers a sluggish victory against Sweden

Kylian Mbappé celebrates the opening goal against Sweden on September 5 in Solna, near Stockholm.

France, by going to beat Sweden (1-0), and Portugal, easy winner of Croatia (4-1), took three precious points, Saturday, September 5, in the “group of death” of the 2e UEFA Nations League.

The reigning world champions lined up Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), after two years of absence in the selection, and the young Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig) in a central defense with three elements that was not too jostled by the Swedes.

A goal from Kylian Mbappé (41e), who launched himself on the left side before shooting closely in a closed angle, reassured the Blues just before the break. Then Didier Deschamps ensured the result without carrying out a squad review, and Antoine Griezmann even offered the luxury of missing a penalty at the last second, following a foul on Anthony Martial, by shooting over- above.

Portugal master of the game

“We cannot say that we had a brilliant match, but serious and diligent”, summarized the coach Didier Deschamps, saved by the “Flashes” of Mbappé and the all-terrain pressing of “Radiant” N’Golo Kanté.

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In the other shock of this group 3, Portugal, winner last year of the first edition of the League of Nations, was deprived of Cristiano Ronaldo (infection in the right foot), against the Croats without Modric and Rakitic. A superb shot from Joao Cancelo (41e), at the same time as Mbappé’s victorious raid for the Blues, put the Portuguese on track, then Diogo Jota (58e), the Wolverhampton striker, doubled the bet.

The score would have been much heavier if the posts had not saved Croatian goalkeeper Livakovic three times. It was, after all, because Joao Félix, 20, the new little Portuguese wonder (70e), and André Silva (90e+5) added to the note. The Croats, finalists of the last World Cup, saved the honor by Petkovic (90e+1).

England in extremis

In the other matches of this evening without much surprise, England came out of it in extremis against Iceland (1-0), one of its pet peeves, in group 2, thanks to a converted penalty by the very helpful Raheem Sterling (90e+1). The Icelanders could have equalized just after, also from the penalty spot, but Birkir Bjarnason shot over. They had prematurely eliminated the English Lions in the round of 16 of Euro 2016 in France.

Still in Group 2, Belgium quietly managed this international recovery and easily beat Denmark (2-0) thanks to a goal from Lyonnais Jason Denayer (9e), his first for the Red Devils, then another for Dries Mertens (77e), the Napoli striker.

Finally, two relative surprises took place in League C: modest Luxembourg, in progress, went to win in Azerbaijan (2-1), while North Macedonia beat Armenia (2-1). There are 55 countries involved in this second League of Nations.

League of Nations: the program of the Blues

Saturday September 5 at 8:45 p.m .: Sweden-France (in Solna)

Tuesday September 8 at 8:45 p.m .: France-Croatia (in Saint-Denis)

Sunday October 11 at 8:45 p.m .: France-Portugal (in Saint-Denis)

Wednesday October 14 at 8:45 p.m .: Croatia-France (in Zagreb)

Saturday 14 November at 8:45 p.m .: Portugal-France (stadium to be determined)

Tuesday November 17 at 8:45 p.m .: France-Sweden (stage to be determined)

The World with AFP


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