France 4-0 Netherlands: Mbappe leads to way to ruin Koeman's comeback

By Sports Desk March 24, 2023

France won their first game since their World Cup final defeat in style, beating the Netherlands 4-0 at the Stade de France to kick off their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign with a bang.

Antoine Griezmann put France ahead early after he was teed up by the man chosen over him for the captaincy, Kylian Mbappe, before Dayot Upamecano doubled their advantage inside eight minutes after Jasper Cillessen made a mess of a free-kick.

Mbappe made it three before the halfway point of the first-half, before striking a fabulous second late on as Didier Deschamps' men strolled to an opening win in Group B.

The Dutch had lost several players in the build-up to the game with a virus, but will have been made even sicker by the start to their qualifying campaign and Ronald Koeman's second spell as head coach, with Memphis Depay seeing a late penalty saved to add insult to injury.

After all the noise about the France captaincy, it was somewhat appropriate that Mbappe fed the ball inside to Griezmann to side-foot low and hard to Cillessen's right to give the hosts a second-minute lead.

It was 2-0 soon after as Cillessen failed to deal with Griezmann's free-kick from the right, with the ball ricocheting off Upamecano and rolling through the Dutch goalkeeper's legs into the net.

Mbappe had his first goal as captain in the 21st minute when he played the ball to Aurelien Tchouameni on the halfway line, before racing towards to the left-side of the penalty area to get onto the Real Madrid midfielder's return pass – dummied by Randal Kolo Muani – before finishing calmly.

Koeman took action by introducing Manchester United loanee Wout Weghorst for Kenneth Taylor after just 33 minutes, and the Netherlands were at least able to avoid further damage despite never really testing Mike Maignan in the French goal.

That was until Depay's sloppy pass backwards found Mbappe, who teased Jurrien Timber and Daley Blind before firing across Cillessen to make it 4-0 in the 88th minute, while Depay saw his stoppage-time penalty saved by Maignan to wrap up a miserable game for the Dutch.

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    Brentford and West Ham are tipped to have the toughest starts, with their opponents' average rating at 89.6 on Opta's team rating scale – both sides face Pep Guardiola's side in their opening five matches.

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  • Mbappe avoids surgery after breaking nose in Austria win Mbappe avoids surgery after breaking nose in Austria win

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    Les Bleus were able to hold onto a 1-0 victory over Ralf Rangnick's side, courtesy of a first-half own goal by Max Wober, who turned in Mbappe's cross.

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    "He has returned to the base camp of the French team," the FFF said.

    "He will undergo treatment in the coming days, without undergoing surgery immediately."

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    The 25-year-old, who has scored 47 goals in 80 appearances for France, is still yet to find the back of the net at the Euros.

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    Kylian Mbappe suffering a late head injury marred France's Euro 2024 victory over Austria as Didier Deschamps was left concerned about the Les Bleus star.

    The Real Madrid-bound attacker sustained a blow to his nose after an aerial challenge with Austria's Kevin Danso before Mbappe was withdrawn on Monday.

    France held on for a 1-0 victory in Dusseldorf to move level with fellow Group D leaders Netherlands, but Deschamps will have to sweat over Mbappe's fitness before facing Ronald Koeman's men on Friday.

    "[His] nose is not good at all," the France head coach, who hit 100 wins in charge of his country with the victory over Ralf Rangnick's side, told reporters.

    "Even if it's just the nose, it's the big negative point for us tonight."

    Mbappe missed a gilt-edged opportunity in the second half as his wait for a European Championship goal continued.

    The former Paris Saint-Germain man remains without a goal from a total of 18 shots in the tournament, while he has registered 12 strikes from 39 attempts at the World Cup.

    Mbappe played the cross in for Max Wober's decisive first-half own-goal, however, as the centre-back's inadvertent error proved the difference in the pair's tournament opener.

    France are the first European side at major tournaments (World Cup/Euros) to benefit from 10 own-goals, four more than any other side – Germany are the next best on six.

    Deschamps was still satisfied with Les Bleus' work, though acknowledged their failure in front of goal.

    "Happy with what the players did even if we missed opportunities to double the tally," he added. "It was not perfect but we were solid.

    "We could have been more efficient offensively but it's good to start with a win.

    "There's quality and talent but being solid and working together is also important. We're not going to be over-confident, but it's a good start."

    N'Golo Kante was named as the Player of the Match after his efficient display in midfield, having only returned to the international setup for this tournament after a two-year absence.

    No France player made more successful tackles than Kante's two (level with Jules Kounde), while the midfielder's pair of interceptions marked the most for Les Bleus.

    "Everything was not perfect but we have the result we wanted, this is a good start," Kante said. "There are solid foundations, we have to be more efficient.

    "It makes me happy to be back. Things have changed, makes it feels good to get back into this jersey."

    The defeat ended a run of seven games without a loss for Austria in all competitions (W6 D1), while it was only their second reverse in their last 17 matches (W12 D3).

    Yet former Manchester United boss Rangnick refused to point the blame at any of Austria's players.

    "We are all very disappointed... we allowed France to go ahead, they didn't shoot their goal, it was an unlucky own goal by us," Rangnick said.

    "I think no one can accuse the team of not being engaged enough, not running enough. They gave their everything.

    "They didn't always make the right decisions with the ball. But it isn't easy, the French were aggressive, and played compactly and that wasn't a surprise."

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