France Beats Spain, Wins Nations League Tournament

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World champions France won the UEFA Nations League tournament after beating Spain 2-1 in the final, courtesy of goals from Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe at the San Siro stadium in Italy.

France started with Benzema and Mbappe in attack, supported by Antoine Griezmann. Spain had Ferran Torres, Mikel Oyarzabel and Pablo Sarabia up front in a 4-3-3 formation as they looked to cause an upset against the World champions.

Didier Deschamps side struggled to get a foothold in the game during a first half as Spain dominated, outplaying France but couldn’t penetrate the strong French defence. Matters got worse for France when defender Raphael Varane picked up an injury. The scores remained 0-0 as the first half ended.

But both sides were sparked up after the break as France full-back Theo Hernandez thundered a shot against the underside of the bar after a swift break. Spain responded to that warning in clinical fashion as they took the lead.

Mikel Oyarzabal latched on to a long pass from Sergio Busquets, held off Dayot Upamecano and fired the ball into the bottom corner of the net to send the Spanish supporters into  a frenzy.

Spain’s Mikel Oyarzabel (21) scores against France in UEFA Nations League final

The World champions response was swift as they equalised through a brilliant piece of play.

Mbappe’s pass found Benzema, who cut inside before unleashing a brilliant curling shot into the far corner of the net to make the scores 1-1.

France striker Karim Benzema scores spectacular goal against Spain

Mbappe then grabbed the winner 10 minutes from the end in controversial fashion.

The young French forward raced on to a through ball from Hernandez and kept his cool to slot past Spanish goalkeeper Unai Simon.

French striker Kylian Mbappe scores against Spain

Spain protested that Mbappe was offside when he received the ball, but the VAR check found a slight touch from defender Eric Garcia who had played the France striker onside.

French goalkeeper Lloris got down well to keep out a low shot from Oyarzabal in the 89th minute, and then in stoppage time he reacted superbly to save a strike from substitute Yeremi Pino. France had keeper Hugo Lloris to thank as Deschamps’s side held on for the victory against intense Spanish pressure.

“We did not get off to a good start we were dominated and waited until the first goal to react,” said Pogba.

“We know we have to do better. But if it’s the way we have to win, so be it. Winning a trophy is always good. We’re always hungry for those.”

Earlier on Sunday, Italy had claimed third-place in the Final Four tournament after beating Belgium 2-1 in Turin.


Chidi Nwoke/Reuters.

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