Wissam Ben Yedder has withdrawn from the France squad ahead of their final Nations League group games after testing positive for coronavirus.

After being informed of a positive COVID-19 result on Thursday, Monaco attacker Ben Yedder did not participate in training and began his period of isolation.

France have not called up a replacement ahead of their meeting with Portugal in Lisbon on Saturday and home game against Sweden on Tuesday.

Ben Yedder posted on Twitter: "Thank you for your messages… a lot of disappointment of course but I trust the team to do the job. Above all, protect yourself and pay attention to yourself."

Les Bleus are level on points with Portugal in Nations League Group A3 but sit second due to an inferior goal difference.

Didier Deschamps will be hoping his side can bounce back from a shock 2-0 loss to Finland on Wednesday when they take on European champions Portugal.

Ben Yedder played 57 minutes from the start in that match but failed to register a single shot on target or create a chance for a team-mate.

Monaco are due to face Ligue 1 leaders and defending champions Paris Saint-Germain at the Stade Louis II next Friday.

Only Kylian Mbappe (seven) and Boulaye Dia (eight) have scored more in Ligue 1 this season than Ben Yedder's six goals.

Ben Yedder has had a hand in 29 goals (24 scored, five assisted) since the start of the previous top-flight season; only Mbappe has been involved in more goals (25 scored, nine assisted).

France head coach Didier Deschamps saw "some interesting things" from Marcus Thuram on his international debut against Finland.

Les Bleus' 12-match unbeaten run was ended with a shock 2-0 loss to Finland at Stade de France on Wednesday.

Thuram, the son of World Cup winner Lilian, hit the crossbar with a header and volleyed over as he made his international debut.

Deschamps liked some of what he saw from Borussia Monchengladbach forward Thuram.

"Because it is his first cap with France, I will look at some mitigating factors," he told a news conference.

"He has done some good things, especially during the first half. He could have scored with a bit more luck when his header hit the crossbar.

"He has tried, he has created some space. It was a bit more difficult for him during the second half. There were less gaps and maybe he was a bit tired too, his last game was on Sunday.

"He has shown us some interesting things for his first cap."

Marcus Forss and Onni Valakari scored debut goals for Finland in a shock win.

France attempted 24 shots against Finland, their highest tally in a game without scoring a single goal since drawing with Luxembourg in September 2017.

Deschamps said France needed to learn from their loss ahead of facing Portugal in a crucial Nations League clash on Saturday.

"I want to congratulate this Finland team. Regarding our aggressiveness, intensity and togetherness it is a hard lesson to remember for us," he said.

"Sometimes, it is nice to take a hard game like this in case we forget some of the basics. Those are the facts, this is the reality of high-level football and hopefully it is like that."

Fernando Santos gave little away regarding Portugal's attack for their Nations League clash with France.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota and Joao Felix came off the bench as the European champions thrashed Andorra 7-0 in a friendly on Wednesday.

Ronaldo and Joao Felix got on the scoresheet, while Paulinho marked his international debut with a brace as he started.

The reigning Nations League champions, Portugal host France in Lisbon on Saturday, the teams both on 10 points in Group 3 of League A with two matches left to play.

But, asked about Ronaldo, Jota, Joao Felix and Paulinho facing France, Santos said one would miss out.

"Only three of the four play," the Portugal head coach said.

"But I will not reveal which ones."

Pedro Neto and Renato Sanches were also on the scoresheet against Andorra, to go with an Emili Garcia own goal, as Portugal dominated.

Santos was satisfied with his side's performance as they extended their unbeaten run to eight games.

"It was an interesting game and within what we expected," he said.

"Obviously Andorra is a very defensive team. It was necessary to have a lot of patience to circulate the ball and to find spaces. The team did well in that respect.

"It was a successful game."

Antoine Griezmann said France must learn from their shock 2-0 defeat to Finland ahead of a showdown with Portugal on Saturday.

The world champions' 12-match unbeaten run came to a halt in a friendly at Stade de France on Wednesday following goals from 21-year-old debutants Marcus Forss and Onni Valakari in the space of three first-half minutes.

Victory for Finland was their first against Les Bleus in nine attempts, but it could have been a different story in Paris, where Didier Deschamps' side failed to capitalise on a bright start.

Marcus Thuram, making his full international bow, headed against the crossbar and volleyed off target when unmarked from close range before Finland took the lead.

Deschamps made eight changes to the side that started in a win over Croatia last month, with Griezmann among those coming off the bench three days before a crunch Nations League encounter with Portugal.

France's 24 attempts at goal was their most without scoring since firing a blank against Luxembourg in September 2017 and Griezmann warned they must be more ruthless.

He told M6: "We had two or three opportunities with Marcus. If he puts them in, it's another game. We have to look at what we did wrong and look to Saturday."

Thuram was in the thick of the action in a lively debut and hopes to soon get another chance to show he belongs on the international stage.

"It's true that it was a good first half. This Finnish team has come together very well," said the Borussia Monchengladbach forward.

"I try to learn a lot alongside the other internationals to gain as much experience as possible as quickly as possible."

Debutants Marcus Forss and Onni Valakari scored debut goals as Finland ended France's 12-match unbeaten run with a shock 2-0 friendly victory.

A much-changed Les Bleus side made a promising start, but 21-year-olds Forss and Valakari struck in the space of three first-half minutes to put Finland in command at the Stade de France on Wednesday.

France debutant Marcus Thuram struck the crossbar before Forss opened the scoring, but the world champions were toothless ahead of their Nations League encounters with Portugal and Sweden.

Finland, who also rung the changes, were solid after rocking Didier Deschamps' side with those two first-half goals from out of the blue and famously secured their first win over France, whose previous defeat came against Turkey in June 2019.

Thuram made a lively start on the left flank and almost opened the scoring when he rose high to head Lucas Digne's corner against the crossbar 15 minutes in, before volleying over unmarked from just eight yards out.

France were dominant but Finland took the lead against the run of play just before the half-hour mark, Forss driving into the penalty area to fire home with his left foot after Rasmus Karjalainen dispossessed Moussa Sissoko.

Things quickly went from bad to worse for Les Bleus, with Valakari cutting inside onto his left foot and picking his spot in the top-left corner with a stunning strike from around 20 yards out.

Finland were brimming with confidence and Steve Mandanda had to be alert to keep out Joni Kauko's effort with his feet early in the second half.

Antoine Griezmann, Anthony Martial and N'Golo Kante were introduced 12 minutes after the break, with Paul Pogba among the trio withdrawn, but France were running out of ideas.

Monaco full-back Ruben Aguilar made his debut off the bench and Griezmann firing wide in stoppage time when he ought to have scored summed up a frustrating night for France.

Several stars will hope to make their first senior appearances for their countries this week as international football returns.

While most European nations will prepare for their final Nations League matches with friendlies in the coming days, South America is straight back into competitive action with the latest rounds of 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

A host of players are celebrating call-ups and will be doing their utmost to win their first caps, particularly with less than a year to run until the delayed Euro 2020 and Copa America finals.

We've picked out six of the biggest names hoping to make an impact on their debut this week...

 

ENGLAND: JUDE BELLINGHAM

Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham was called up by England boss Gareth Southgate after injuries to Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Ward-Prowse.

The 17-year-old, who will be England's third-youngest debutant if he plays this month, has enjoyed a strong start to life in the Bundesliga and beat the likes of James Maddison and Ross Barkley to a spot in the Three Lions squad.

Key Fact: Bellingham is averaging 68 successful passes per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this season for Dortmund, the highest figure for any teenage midfielder in Europe's top five divisions.

FRANCE: MARCUS THURAM

Didier Deschamps said Ruben Aguilar could also make his debut this week, but it is Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram who is capturing much of the focus on the France squad.

The son of 1998 World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, who holds the record for France caps on 142, striker Marcus Thuram scored both goals in Gladbach's 2-2 Champions League draw with Real Madrid.

Key Fact: Thuram has been directly involved in 20 league goals since the start of last season (11 goals and nine assists) – the only Gladbach player with more in this period is fellow Frenchman Alassane Plea.

GERMANY: FELIX UDUOKHAI

Along with Philipp Max of PSV and Wolfsburg's Ridle Baku, Augsburg's Felix Uduokhai is a new face in Joachim Low's Germany squad, having been a runner-up at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

The 23-year-old defender joined Heiko Herrlich's side permanently after impressing on loan from Wolfsburg last season and has performed well in a mixed start to the season for the Bavarians.

Key Fact: Uduokhai has already amassed 43 clearances in Augsburg's opening seven Bundesliga matches this season, the most of any player in the division.

ITALY: PIETRO PELLEGRI

Roberto Mancini named a handful of uncapped players in his typically expansive Italy squad, but Pietro Pellegri's debut has been eagerly awaited for some time.

Having missed out through injury after his previous call-up two years ago, the 19-year-old forward - who cost Monaco €25million in January 2018 - is getting his career back on track after a raft of fitness problems.

Key Fact: Pietro Pellegri is the third-youngest player to score a Serie A goal, doing so aged 16 years and 72 days for Genoa against Roma in May 2017. He is also the youngest player to score a Serie A brace at 16 years and 184 days old for Genoa against Lazio in September 2017.

SPAIN: MARCOS LLORENTE

At 25, it feels as though Marcos Llorente's Spain debut has been a long time coming, but his performances in a more attacking role for Atletico Madrid this season have truly caught the eye.

The former Real Madrid man, who famously scored twice at Anfield in extra time to knock Liverpool out of last season's Champions League, has helped Atleti to an unbeaten first seven games in LaLiga in 2020-21.

Key Fact: Llorente has been directly involved in 11 goals in his past 21 appearances in LaLiga (six goals and five assists) – prior to this run, he had a total of zero goals and two assists in 69 appearances in the competition.

BRAZIL: DIEGO CARLOS

Diego Carlos played a key role to help Sevilla win the Europa League in his first season in Spain. Indeed, having conceded penalties in the quarter-final, semi-final and final, it was his overhead kick that Romelu Lukaku turned into his own net to hand Julen Lopetegui's side the trophy.

The 27-year-old centre-back, who joined after three years with Nantes, is now bidding to become a mainstay in Tite's plans as the Copa America and 2022 World Cup loom on the horizon.

Key Fact: Diego Carlos has started seven sequences of play that have ended with Sevilla attempting a shot in LaLiga this season, the joint-most of any centre-back in the division alongside Gerard Pique.

Didier Deschamps says Marcus Thuram deserves to be in the France squad and has earned his maiden call-up on merit rather than because of his father's legendary status.

Thuram, the son of iconic defender Lilian, is part of the squad for Wednesday's friendly with Finland and the Nations League double-header against Portugal and Sweden.

The Borussia Monchengladbach attacker has started the season well, scoring three goals and setting up two more in 11 matches, including a brace against Real Madrid.

He has been directly involved in 20 Bundesliga goals since joining Gladbach ahead of last season, with only nine players bettering that tally over the same period.

Deschamps talked up Thuram's talents when announcing his squad last week and insists the 23-year-old is ready to step out of the shadow of his dad, who made a record 142 appearances for Les Bleus.

"He likes his dad, I like him as well, but we're talking about Marcus. He's used to all this," Deschamps said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"He's easy going, relaxed and knows most of the players so I don't think there's an emotional problem. That being said, when you're here it can be different. 

"He likes when there's adrenaline, pressure, fans but I don't think it will be a problem. He's here so I count on him. When you're the son of someone, it's always a topic, especially with the French team as it doesn't happen that much."

And while Deschamps wants Thuram to be his own man, he accepts having a one-time world-class player as a father can only be a blessing.

"This is his life, his career. His dad's career is over, we all remember it," he said. "But knowing Lilian, it's going to be an advantage for Marcus - he can get his advice. 

"Most importantly, I told him that if he's here, it's only because of what he did. Being the son of someone is not a criteria to be called, it would be wrong. 

"He knows his dad, I know him, but if he's here, it's because I think he deserves it."

Kurt Zouma is another player looking to make an impact on his recall to the side, the Chelsea centre-back being preferred to RB Leipzig's highly-rated Dayot Upamecano.

He has helped Chelsea to eight clean sheets in 12 appearances this term and Deschamps will give Zouma a chance to add to his five caps over the next week or so.

"There's competition in every position," Deschamps said. "Kurt has been with us for a while, has been called many times but didn't play that much. 

"If I pick him, it's because I think he's better than others at that position because what he's doing with Chelsea.  He had a few injuries in a row, but now he's been very fit for a while. 

"He's very calm, so he's here. If you're asking why I picked those four central defenders, I have to choose. We have three games in nine days so obviously everybody will play, including Kurt."

Paris Saint-Germain are in talks with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe over contract extensions and will look to make progress in the coming weeks, sporting director Leonardo assured.

Neymar and Mbappe are the world's two most expensive players, having joined PSG for €222million and €180m respectively.

Both attacking superstars are into the final two years of their existing deals, however, making the club potentially vulnerable in upcoming transfer windows.

PSG are determined to keep the duo in the French capital and have already opened negotiations, with Angel Di Maria - out of contract at the end of 2020-21 - another key target for Leonardo.

"We must adapt to the current context with the coronavirus pandemic," he said in a Q&A on PSG's social media channels.

"With Neymar, Mbappe, [Angel] Di Maria, [Juan] Bernat and even the young players, they are all the extensions we have already started discussions for and we will try to intensify this in the next few weeks.

"We have started talking [with Neymar]. There is the timing; at the moment, people cannot even move [in the transfer market]. The idea of ​​renewing exists."

Mbappe has consistently been linked with a move to Real Madrid, but Leonardo is not concerned by the noise in Spain.

"There is a lot of talk," he said. "And in the Spanish teams, there are a lot of politics. We speak directly with Kylian, that's the truth of the negotiation.

"The truth is that PSG are in a complicated moment, but it will be the team of the next five years that will have a shot.

"There are teams that have gone through a very long, successful cycle and are starting to struggle. We have young but very experienced players.

"We have Neymar, Mbappe, who are in the top three [in the world] because [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi will come out with age.

"That's the idea. I see this future and that's what we're working on.

"We know this season is weird. We knew it would be difficult, that we will play all our games behind closed doors and that we would not have the same income."

But PSG's immediate concerns relating to Neymar and Mbappe are their respective returns to fitness.

Between coronavirus cases, suspensions and injuries, Neymar has played just six times in all competitions this season, while Mbappe has been restricted to eight appearances.

The pair are both carrying knocks heading into the international break but have each been called up by their national teams.

"If it is an official call-up, the club cannot say anything - even if the player is injured," said Leonardo, who defended PSG's awful injury record this season.

"There have been moments of shock and times when we try to have something logical, some common sense.

"With Brazil and France, it was clear: they are injured, they have a schedule, they have to respect the time [required to get fit]. They follow a programme as if they were here.

"They are not going to play the first game with their national teams, maybe the second. That's the only thing we could do.

"The federations assured us that they would not take any risk with the health of our players. Then the schedule is hellish. We will try to live with it but it's incredible."

Monaco full-back Ruben Aguilar has earned his first call-up to the France squad for their upcoming triple-header.

It marks the end of the 27-year-old's long wait for an international selection…Or at least a first legitimate selection.

Aguilar, who was born in France to a French mother and Spanish father, claimed in 2017 that he had been put in the awkward position of fielding a seemingly nonsensical attempt by Bolivia to persuade him to represent La Verde.

He surmised it to have been a consequence of an error in the database of the Football Manager video game, which he said gave him French-Bolivian dual nationality.

Following good performances with Montpellier at the time, Aguilar received significant attention from Bolivians on social media and even became a topic on TV, with interview requests coming in from the South American nation.

Aguilar had no genuine connection to Bolivia and it proved to be just as well – he could make his first appearance at any level of international football for the defending world champions.

France face Finland in a friendly on Wednesday, before Nations League clashes with Portugal and Sweden.

Aguilar fills the squad place vacated earlier on Monday by Houssem Aouar, who sustained an injury for Lyon at the weekend.

Miralem Pjanic has claimed he was offered the chance to represent France but it would have broken his heart to turn his back on Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The Barcelona midfielder was born in Tuzla, in what was then Yugoslavia, before his family moved to Luxembourg shortly after the outbreak of the Bosnian War.

Pjanic represented Luxembourg's national youth teams during his formative years and signed for Metz at 14, later turning out for Lyon.

And it was while he was playing in Ligue 1 that he was telephoned by then France head coach Raymond Domenech about the prospect of declaring himself available for Les Bleus.

“Yes, I could have played for the France team when I arrived in Lyon, but I said a few days before that my dream was Bosnia," Pjanic, 30, told Canal Plus.

"Domenech called me, but I had already made up my mind. I thanked him of course, but I preferred to be realistic.

"For me, the France team, it was too much [to break into] at that time. And it would have hurt my heart if, on the other side, Bosnia was watching one of its own playing for the France team."

Pjanic, who joined Barca from Juventus in June, is currently preparing for Bosnia-Herzegovina's international friendly against Iran before Nations League matches against Netherlands and Italy.

Thomas Tuchel would prefer it if Neymar and Kylian Mbappe had not been called up by their national sides but concedes there is nothing Paris Saint-Germain can do.

Both players have been struggling with injuries and will play no part in PSG's Ligue 1 clash with Rennes on Saturday.

Mbappe missed Wednesday's 2-1 loss to RB Leipzig with a "minor" muscular issue sustained against Nantes last week, while Neymar has sat out two games with a groin problem.

However, Mbappe is part of France's squad for their November internationals and Neymar is due to travel to South America for Brazil's World Cup qualifying double-header against Venezuela and Uruguay.

Speaking at a news conference previewing the match with Rennes, Tuchel told reporters: "It's the right of the national teams to call up their players. We can't do anything about it.

"I prefer that if the players are injured and cannot play, we get them back. But at the same time we have to trust the national teams to take good care of the players."

Since his arrival in August 2017, PSG have played as many Ligue 1 games with Neymar as without, winning 86 per cent of matches he has been involved in and 70 per cent in his absence.

PSG are also without Marco Verratti, Mauro Icardi, Julian Draxler, Keylor Navas, Presnel Kimpembe and, potentially, Pablo Sarabia for the visit of Rennes.

The champions have lost 13 league games against Rennes this century – only against Lyon have they had as many defeats.

Julien Stephan's side finished third in last season's shortened Ligue 1 campaign and are in the same position this time around after nine games.

Tuchel has been impressed by what he has seen from Rennes, who also beat PSG on penalties after a 2-2 draw to win the 2019 Coupe de France final.

"During my time in France, this team has always been progressing," he said. "They have a good unity between the team and the coach and deserve to be in the Champions League.

"They won a cup, too, unfortunately against us. They are a strong, solid and courageous team.

"They are very impressive and we are preparing for what should be a great match."

Didier Deschamps believes Dayot Upamecano is going through a "difficult moment" after the defender was left out of the France squad.

Upamecano, 22, was overlooked for a friendly against Finland and Nations League matches against Portugal and Sweden later this month.

Deschamps said RB Leipzig star Upamecano, a three-time France international, would get his chances in the future.

"There is a lot of competition in this position. He was with us before. He's going through a more difficult moment," the France coach told a news conference.

"He knows he can do better. He was quite emotional during his first call up in September, and in October as well. He's a young player and he has the potential. He's playing many games.

"Of course, if it's not him, it's another, it's about the competition. Kurt Zouma in that case, who's doing very well, he's a starter at Chelsea and he knows the French team as well.

"The door is not closed. I make that choice today because it's logical to me. Will it be the same in March and June? It's the same thing for all of the players who were not called but can hope to be in the national team."

While early in the Bundesliga season, Upamecano's duel success rate of 48.9 per cent is lower than he has managed in any campaign since he arrived from Salzburg in 2017.

He is also going at just 1.2 tackles per 90 minutes, which is also his lowest.

Another player still out of the France squad is Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele, who last played for his nation in 2018.

"Ousmane is coming back from a big injury, he's playing again, 60 minutes, one half, 30 minutes, 20 minutes... You need to give him time," Deschamps said.

"I know what he can do because he was with us two years ago. He had injuries, it's up to him go back to his full form. It's not the case and it's normal."

Kylian Mbappe has been included in the France squad despite being a doubt for Paris Saint-Germain's next game due to a hamstring injury.

The 21-year-old attacker sat out PSG's 2-1 Champions League loss to RB Leipzig on Wednesday with a muscular problem sustained against Nantes last weekend.

Thomas Tuchel said the issue was "very minor" and Mbappe was due to be reassessed on Thursday ahead of Saturday's home Ligue 1 game against Rennes.

Reports had suggested Mbappe could be forced to miss that game and France's upcoming friendly with Finland and Nations League clashes against Portugal and Sweden, but Didier Deschamps included him in his 26-man squad.

"Today there is no certainty that he cannot be available," Deschamps said when asked about Mbappe's inclusion.

"If I put him in the list today, it is because it is very likely he will be available to face Portugal on Saturday. If all goes well, he should be there.

"I understand the position of club coaches. There is no conflict to be had with anyone. Interests may diverge between those who are tired or have injury doubts.

"I have never taken any risks with anyone. We have the same interest with this player, whether it's Kylian or someone else, but there is no conflict.

"I'm not against Tuchel. He has to manage his matches with the obligations of results, like me with the France team."

Mbappe responded to news of his selection by tweeting a photo of himself in a France shirt with the caption "blessed", which when translated to French sounds similar to the word used for injured.

Borussia Monchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram was handed a first call-up to the senior team, while Dayot Upamecano and Ferland Mendy were left out.

"I've been following him for a while. He does good things. He has the ability to create differences. He scores and assists and has this ability in big games to be very present and good," said Deschamps of Thuram.

Teenage midfielder Eduardo Camavinga missed out through injury and there was no place for Houssem Aouar.

 

France squad:

Benoit Costil (Bordeaux), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Mike Maignan (Lille); Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea); N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Steven Nzonzi (Rennes), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich); Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Nabil Fekir (Real Betis), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach).

Owen Farrell feels England are "just getting started" after they were crowned Six Nations champions on Saturday.

Ben Youngs marked his 100th cap with a double as the Red Rose secured a 34-5 bonus-point victory over Italy in Rome to give themselves a great chance of winning the title.

Ireland would have been guaranteed the trophy if they had beaten France by a margin of at least seven points in the final match of the tournament, but Les Bleus gave another demonstration of their huge potential in a 35-27 victory in Paris.

England finished level on points with France, but Eddie Jones' side won the competition for the first time in three years on points difference.

Farrell says there is more to come from England after they were able to celebrate almost a year to the day since they were beaten by South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final.

Asked if England have more to give, captain Farrell said on BBC One: "Massively, it feels like we're just getting started. There were four new caps today, someone who got their 100th cap in Ben Youngs and Jamie George who got his 50th.

"It feels like we've got a brilliant blend of experience and youth to drive us forward and being involved in training in the last few weeks has shown that to us and we're looking forward to what's in front of us as well."

Farrell paid tribute to wily head coach Jones after he masterminded the third Six Nations triumph of his reign.

He said of Jones: "He's been brilliant. the best thing I can say is we all love being here and being in camp and we all love working hard to improve and hopefully you see that when we get out on the field."

The England skipper also hailed Youngs on a special day for the scrum-half.

"I'm chuffed for him. It's a huge achievement reaching 100 caps, only the second person to do it for England, it's massive," said Farrell.

"To have such a good game, like he did, and to top it off with the trophy is brilliant."

Johnny Sexton conceded Ireland's display was not up to scratch after they went down 35-27 to France in Paris in their final Six Nations match.

Andy Farrell's side went into Saturday's clash at the Stade de France knowing a victory by at least seven points would secure their fifth Six Nations title.

However, Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack ran the show for France as they ended Ireland's hopes and England – who had seen off Italy in Rome – were crowned champions.

Sexton kicked 10 points, with Cian Healy, on his 100th cap, Robbie Henshaw and Jacob Stockdale getting Ireland's tries.

However, the 35-year-old insisted Ireland's display was not at the required level.

"I felt that they took their opportunities really well, sometimes off nothing, off our mistakes," Sexton said.

"We weren't there, we weren't good enough. We had good chances to score, a few chances five metres out.

"We went for a try [at the end of first half], a brave decision to go and get another try before half-time. We were very close but we weren't quite good enough. It's going to be tough to look at over the next week or so.

"We saw the other results, we knew we needed to win by more than six, or with a bonus point. We tried to make some brave calls, get some tries, because we knew there was some space there to be exploited but we weren't good enough to take it."

Ireland are next in action in the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup, starting their campaign against Wales on November 13.

"We're looking forward to a new competition, today's going to hurt," Sexton continued.

"We've got some important players to come back for us and some new players as well, so we're looking forward to getting them back and trying to bounce back from this disappointment."

Despite brilliant displays from half-backs Dupont and Ntamack, the Player of the Match award went to France number eight Gregory Alldritt, who attempted 24 tackles – all of which were successful.

"It was a tough game, they were coming to win the Six Nations. We focused only on winning this game, it was tough to win. We won, we're happy," said Aldritt, who had special praise for his opposite number CJ Stander.

"CJ Stander is a fantastic player. I was looking at him on TV four years ago with stars in my eyes. Great to play against him, what an incredible player."

 

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