World champion France returned to their winning ways after their splendid showing in Russia over the summer, beating Netherlands 2-1 in front of a rocking home crowd in Paris on Sunday, reports BBC.
France striker Olivier Giroud, who did not score a single goal for the national team in the World Cup, despite being one of their most important attacking players, scored a sumptuous second for the world champions after Ryan Babel’s strike for the Netherlands had canceled out Kylian Mbappe’s opener.
This is France’s first win since the World Cup in a newly revamped competition called the Nations League, which would see international soccer follow in the footsteps of club soccer by creating four divisions across Europe and teams with similar pedigree vying it out for places in Euros 2020 as well as in a separate four-team tournament to be held in summer of next year.
France coach Didier Deschamps named the same full-strength team that played out a draw on Thursday night against Germany in the opening game of the competition. Only goalkeeper-captain Hugo Lloris missed out from the team that defied the odds in Russia earlier this year to win the World Cup for only the second time in their history.
⚽️ GIROUD! ⚽️
Stunning volley from the Chelsea striker who was picked out by Benjamin Mendy and France are back in front.
— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) September 9, 2018
The Netherlands, who have missed out on the last two World Cups, seemed in the mood to make amends for their inability to qualify by surprising France, but the French side took the lead through their teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, who announced his arrival on the world stage by scoring four goals during the World Cup in Russia.
But the Netherlands, which has produced some of the greatest players the game has ever seen, remained tight at the back after the first goal, and their first shot on the French goal yielded an equalizer in the second half after former Liverpool striker Ryan Babel scored his first competitive goal for his country in 13 years.
However, that was not enough, as Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud, who was criticized in some quarters during the World Cup for his lack of proficiency in front of goal, shut up critics by scoring one of the goals of the tournament so far. He somehow wrapped his foot around an incoming Mendy cross despite the world’s most expensive defender, Virgil van Dijk, right in front of him, to give his team all the points in a tightly contested encounter in Paris.
In the other big game of the night, a full-strength Denmark defeated Wales — still basking in the glory of the 4-1 thrashing they handed out to Ireland just three days ago — by two goals with both strikes coming from Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.