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France 2-1 Netherlands UEFA Nations League: match report

A first half goal by Kylian Mbappe was cancelled out by a Ryan Babel strike before Olivier Giroud broke his international duck with the winner.

France's forward Olivier Giroud celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Nations League football match between France and Netherlands at the Stade de France stadium, in Saint-Denis, northern of Paris, on September 9, 2018. (Photo by Anne-Chris

France 2-1 Netherlands: match report

It was a useful exercise for Netherlands in that they got the chance to see how far they have to go to to return to the heights they once reached as a football nation. In a game against a side that are as well-drilled and confident as anyone in world football at the moment, the Netherlands came up short.

It doesn't help that France have the most exciting young footballer in world football to make every attack a potential goalscoring opportunity. Kylian Mbappé was electric on a number of occasions but while they promised a lot, they rarely troubled Jasper Cillessen in the opening half.

The game threatened to explode on a number of occasions but that was due more to individual brilliance than either of the sides' managers tactics. Whenever Netherlands got close, and they levelled in the second half, France moved up a gear and kept the visitors at bay.

Mbappe scored the opener after 14 minutes when a Blaise Matuidi cross made its way to him at the back post after Olivier Giroud was tripped thus ending his hopes of a handy finish.

France looked dangerous at times for the remainder of the half but their bark was worse than their bite. Netherlands, on the other hand, never displayed either and had no focal point in attack blended with a wobbly defence: a drepressing combination.

They scored the equaliser in the second half through a red-headed Ryan Babel, a goal they deserved given their improved performance in the second 45. The ball from the right off the boot of Tete landed on his knee and he finished after 67 minutes.

Olivier Giroud, who had gone 807 minutes without a goal drove home from a Benjamin Mendy cross just eight minutes later to put the home side ahead again. Questions will be asked of Cillessen's goalkeeping, but not by Giroud. He was too busy breathing a sigh of relief after his recent goalles spell.

France's homecoming, their first game at the Stade de France since winning the World Cup, was not ruined by a pesky Netherlands side even though it looked like it might at various times in that second half. Babel and Depay were finally getting help from their midfield and overlapping wingers and were looking more ambitious themselves.

2-1 was how it ended, however, with the home fans bouncing in capital of France, the effects and good mood brought on by a successful summer still in the air.

Netherlands were increasingly organised with an attacking intent in the second half but France were more organised overall and with players like Mbappe, who was a thorn in their side all night, they have a game-changing attacker, who increases potency by just being alive and on the field.

At least they got to put their new squad and system under Koeman to the test and they found out plenty about themselves; flaws and all.

France vs Netherlands live online: updates

France vs Netherlands live online: preview

The Nations League continues on Sunday night with France, the World Cup champions, versus Ronald Koeman's Netherlands' side, who didn't even feature at the competition. The game kicks off at 20:45 CEST from Stade de France.

France team news:

Benjamin Pavard is likely to move out of Didier Deshcamps' starting eleven after taking a very heavy challenge from Anthonio Rüdiger with his studs, which the German defender has since apologised for. Meanwhile, Lucas Hernandez could drop out but Alphonos Areola, who was excellent in that 0-0 draw against Low's side, will likely keep his place. Chelsea's goalkeeping coach says Areola is better than Hugo Lloris and if he can repel Netherlands' attack and keep another clean sheet, he might just start a debate as to who should start in goals for France going forward.

Netherlands team news:

Ronald Koeman said France's World Cup is a "thing in the past" and counts for nothing now that it's over. His side beat Peru 2-1 with Memphis Depay scoring a brace in that game as the winger continues his good form. Wesley Sneijder retired after the game and says that Depay "showed everyone how good he is at the moment. I hope he continues this way. We gonna enjoy him in the Dutch team". Daryl Janmaat, Patrick van Aanholt and Stefan de Vrij are all in contention for a start but Depay will draw most of the attention from France's defence. 


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