Mbappe acts as France shakes off their problems to outclass Austria



Kylian Mbappe scored a stunning opening goal as France shrugged off injuries to a string of key players and a string of off-pitch problems to claim a welcome 2-0 win over Austria in the UEFA Nations League at Paris on Thursday.

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Mbappé showed his phenomenal pace and strength along the way before finishing with emphasis to put the reigning world champions ahead in the 56th minute at the Stade de France.

The recalled Olivier Giroud doubled the lead nine minutes later as France ran out of well-deserved winners to avert the threat of relegation from the Nations League top flight, a competition they only won last year.

“We did what we had to do to win, creating lots of chances and controlling the game,” said coach Didier Deschamps.

“There are a lot of positives to be taken from the game.”

Deschamps’ side have yet to win their last Group A1 game in Denmark on Sunday to be sure they can avoid relegation, while qualifying for next June’s four-team finals is already out of reach.

The reason why France didn’t win any of their four games in June is the reason for that, but the priority for Bleus now is the World Cup, with the first title defense game in Qatar exactly two months away. .

Deschamps will hope to have at least recovered most of his ruined stars before the match against Australia arrives on 22 November.

Those absent from this match would constitute a very strong team in their own right, with the absentees including the goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris; central defenders Lucas Hernandez and Presnel Kimpembe; left-back Theo Hernandez; midfield pivot N’Golo Kante and striker Kingsley Coman.

At the moment Karim Benzema is also out, and then there is Paul Pogba, who faces a race against time to recover from knee surgery.

Pogba was also in the headlines after filing a complaint with Italian prosecutors claiming he was the target of a 13 million euro ($ 13 million) blackmail plot.

His brother Mathias is one of five people accused and detained in the case.

– Giroud closes with a record of goals –

Meanwhile, this week began with Paris Saint-Germain Mbappe superstar refusing to take part in a straight-up photo shoot with the French Football Association for image rights.

But neither Mbappe nor his France teammates seemed distracted as they outclassed Austria.

Mbappe had the ball in the net in 90 seconds only to be denied by the offside flag, and was a constant threat in the first half.

France should have taken the lead at half-time, but Austria had to thank goalkeeper Patrick Pentz for a sensational double save in the 35th minute.

Pentz overturned Aurelien Tchouameni’s acrobatic overhead kick over the crossbar and then ducked down to save Antoine Griezmann’s next attempt.

Before that, the hosts, who made their debut with Monaco central defender Benoit Badiashile and his club colleague, midfielder Youssouf Fofana, saw increased concerns over injury when Barcelona’s Jules Kounde limped out.

Goalkeeper Mike Maignan was also out at half-time to be replaced by West Ham United’s Alphonse Areola, but France took the lead soon after.

Mbappe picked up a pass from Giroud on the left before entering, bouncing off Austrian Marcel Sabitzer and whipping a shot past Pentz.

He celebrated by imitating a photographer, an apparent nod to the annoying dispute over image rights.

Giroud then marked his return to the squad with a header from Griezmann’s cross for 2-0 with his 49th international goal.

It is now only twice as low as Thierry Henry’s French record of 51.