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France Stumble To Narrow Victory Over Austria In Euro 2024 Opener

  • June 17, 2024
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France Stumble To Narrow Victory Over Austria In Euro 2024 Opener

France exorcised the demons of their disappointing Euro 2021 performance with a narrow 1-0 victory against Austria at the Düsseldorf Arena on Monday night.

The win came courtesy of an own goal in the 38th minute, with Kylian Mbappé’s cross deflected into the net by Austrian defender Maximilian Wöber.

Mbappé, the French captain, was a constant threat throughout the match. However, his night was marred by two incidents. He had his nose bloodied in a collision with Kevin Danso while attempting a header and received a yellow card for re-entering the field without permission after receiving treatment.

Early on, Mbappé sent a warning shot in the eighth minute, but his strike from the left flank was palmed away by Austria’s Patrick Pentz. It was a questionable decision by Mbappé, who could have found a teammate or the far post instead, instead of forcing a shot with a closed near angle.

In an interview with ITV1 before the game, Mbappé acknowledged the responsibility on his shoulders as the team’s leader. He lived up to that responsibility by creating the winning goal, but Austria also had their chances. Christoph Baumgartner missed a golden opportunity when he opted for a powerful shot instead of a delicate chip over French goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

The goal was a major relief for Didier Deschamps, the French coach. He aims to become the second manager in history, after German Berti Vogts, to win the Euros as both a player and a manager. Deschamps could even achieve a unique “double double” by winning the Euros twice as a manager, having already secured one title in 2018.

Mbappé squandered another chance in the 55th minute. After beating his defender for pace, he fired wide with a shot that lacked the necessary bend to find the target. This miss continues Mbappé’s Euros drought, having also missed a penalty against Switzerland in the round of 16 in the 2021 edition.

France continued to press for a second goal. Phillipp Mwene made a crucial intervention in the 66th minute, blocking an attempt from Jules Koundé. The French dominated possession, forcing more saves from Pentz, who denied Marcus Thuram, while Olivier Giroud (France’s all-time top scorer) fluffed his after a good run from Kolo Muani.

While not a convincing performance, France will be happy to secure the three points in their opening match. They can now focus on improving their attacking efficiency moving forward as the tougher test await for them against the Netherlands.

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