January 16, 2022

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France comes from behind to win Nations League Final

2 min read

France came from behind once again to win the Nations League at the expense of Spain in Milan.

Mikel Oyarzabal put Spain ahead at the San Siro before Karim Benzema struck back moments later. Kylian Mbappe completed a second comeback at these finals for Les Blues, who secured their place in this final by coming from two down against Belgium.

Italy had secured third place, beating Belgium 2-1 earlier this afternoon. Both sides made two changes from the semi-final, where Spain had seen off 10-man Italy 2-1, while France fought back from 2-0 down to eliminate Belgium 3-2.

Karim Benzema sprung the offside trap on an inspired Paul Pogba through ball, but took one too many touches trying to dribble around Unai Simon and narrowed the angle too much.

Spain began to take control of possession and had penalty appeals waved away, as Jules Koundé charged down a cross with a trailing arm, but it was considered congruous movement.

Raphael Varane limped off just before half-time, but Spain failed to make the most of a Koundé error when Mikel Oyarzabal over-hit the assist for Ferran Torres.

After a tactical, nervy and tight contest for more than an hour, the game burst into life. Paul Pogba drove through the midfield and eventually found Theo Hernandez who cracked the ball against the bar.

Moments later, Spain took the lead, as Oyarzabal sprung the offside trap, held off Dayot Upamecano and kept his cool to place an angled drive across Hugo Lloris into the far bottom corner.

They had barely finished celebrating by the time France had equalised, as Karim Benzema cut inside Cesar Azpilicueta and unleashed an unstoppable right-foot curler into the far top corner that even Unai Simon getting his fingertips to couldn’t keep out.

Mbappe got the winner but had to be alert when he needed to be, racing onto a ball from Theo Hernandez to put him one-on-one with Simon. Mbappe showed wonderful composure to delay, throw in a step-over and finish past Simon.

VAR checked Mbappe’s goal for offside but it was allowed to stand despite the striker being in an offside position due to the slightest of touches from Spanish defender Eric Garcia.

Oyarzabal thought he’d equalised at the 89th on a Marcos Alonso assist, but his volley was beaten off the line by a one-handed Lloris save. The France goalkeeper made another desperate save deep into stoppages on Yeremi Pino, as Spain’s late siege proved fruitless.

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