Zagreb (AFP) – Kylian Mbappe snatched a late goal as France beat Croatia 2-1 in the Nations League match in Zagreb on Wednesday.
The Paris Saint-Germain star, who had previously missed an open goal, swooped 11 minutes earlier to decide to replay the final round of the 2018 World Cup Final in France’s favor after Nicola Vlasic canceled Antoine Griezmann’s opening game.
France, who won the final 4-2 in Moscow two years ago, also won 4-2 when the two teams faced off in Paris in the Nations League last month.
Al-Azraq never lost to Croatia after this result, which keeps France on the same level with Portugal with 10 points at the top of the Nations League A, Group 3.
Portugal, winners of the inaugural Nations League last year, ignored Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence due to a positive Covid-19 test when they beat Sweden 3-0 in Lisbon on Wednesday.
It is now between Portugal and France to top the group and a place in the four-team finals next year. The two teams meet in Portugal on November 14th after drawing 0-0 in Paris last weekend.
France coach Didier Deschamps made six changes to his squad after that match, and among those who participated in the match were Anthony Martial and Real Madrid defender Ferland Mendy, while the likes of Paul Pogba and Olivier Giroud slipped.
Mendy played in the opening game in the eighth minute as he was crossed before the ball fell to Griezmann, and the Barcelona striker fired a shot from the underside of the crossbar.
Shortly thereafter, Mbappe somehow failed to convert Martial’s pass with the goal gap, and Croatia fought in the second half.
To delight their fans in a crowd of nearly 7,000, they deserved a draw in the 65th minute when captain Luka Modric and substitute Josep Bricalo got together to form Vlasic – brother of former world high jump champion Blanca Vlasic – who shot a low shot in the corner.
It was left to Mbappe, who missed the two teams’ last meeting in September with the Corona virus, to score France’s victory.
Pogba, as a substitute, sent a superb ball from the left to Lucas Denny and Mbappe hit the Everton defender’s cross the first time.