Fantastic France Forwards Win UEFA Nations League

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Updated: Oct 11, 2021 8:00 am

Goals from Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe saw France crowned the 2nd ever UEFA Nations League champions after defeating Spain at the San Siro last night despite Mikel Oyarzabal giving the Spanish the lead.

Earlier in the day in the 3rd place play-off, goals from Nicolo Barella and Domenico Berardi (from the penalty spot) saw hosts Italy defeat Belgium at the Allianz Stadium.

3rd Place Play-Off – Belgium vs Italy

Italy made 5 changes from their 2-1 defeat against Spain with Francesco Acerbi, Lorenzo Pelligrini, Manuel Locatelli, Domenico Berardi and Giacomo Raspadori coming in for the European Champions while Belgium make 3 changes from their 3-2 defeat against France with Alexis Saelemaekers, Hans Vanaken and Michy Batshuayi all coming in to play in their front 3.

Italy’s first chance came in the 3rd minute with Chiesa firing over with Belgium’s first opportunity came 4 minutes later with Batshuayi doing the same following an error in communication between the two Italian centre-backs. Berardi would test Thibault Courtois (pictured below) with a deflected effort from 25 yards which the Belgian number 1 dealt with diving to his left before Saelemaekers hit the post in the 25th minute from Batshuayi’s pull-back to the edge of the area.

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Italy would take the lead in the opening minute of the second half as ‘s left-footed corner was headed out for Barella (pictured below) to volley in from the edge of the area, his seventh international goal, before Batshuayi would hit the bar from a tight-angle on the hour mark. Italy would win a penalty in the 63rd minute with Chiesa tripped by Timothy Castagne with Berardi slotting home despite Courtois going the right way.

Alderweireld would force Gianluigi Donnarumma into a save, volleying a half-cleared corner goalwards with 13 minutes to play, before Carrasco would hit the outside of the post from de Bruyne’s pass 5 minutes later. They would score with 4 minutes to play as substitute Charles de Ketelaere finishes between the legs of Donnarumma to score on his competitive debut for the Red Devils.

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Italy: Donnarumma (c); Di Lorenzo, Acerbi, Bastoni, Emerson; Barella (Cristante 70), Pelligrini (Jorginho 70), Locatelli; Berardi (Insigne 90), Raspadori (Kean 65), Chiesa (Bernardeschi 90)

Booked: Di Lorenzo 30, Emerson 83

Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen (c); Castagne, Witsel, Tielemans (de Bruyne 59), Carrasco (Trossard 88); Saelemaekers (de Ketelaere 59), Batshuayi, Vanaken

Booked: Vertonghen 14, Witsel 56, Alderweireld 63

Final – France vs Spain

France made 2 changes with Presnal Kimpembe and Aurelien Tchouameni replacing Lucas Hernandez and Adrien Rabiot while Spain also made 2 changes with Eric Garcia and Rodri replacing in for Pau Torres and Koke.

After a first-half with no goalmouth action, Theo Hernandez would hit the underside of the bar in the 63rd minute before Sergio Busquets’ through ball was smashed across goal by Mikel Oyarzabal into the side netting. France would equalise almost straight away with Karim Benzema (pictured below, right) curling in from the corner of the penalty area from Kylian Mbappe’s (pictured below, left) pass. France would take the lead with 10 minutes to play as Hernandez would play Mbappe through to tuck the ball under Unai Simon.

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France: Lloris; Kounde, Varane (Upamecano 43), Kimpembe; Pavard (Dubois 79), Pogba, Tchouameni, T. Hernandez; Griezmann (Veretout 90); Benzema, Mbappe

Booked: Pogba 46, Kounde 55

Spain: Simon; Azpilicueta, Garcia, Laporte, Alonso; Busquets (c), Rodri (Fornals 84); Sarabia (Pino 61), Gavi (Koke 75), Oyarzabal; F. Torres (Merino 84)

Booked: Laporte 86


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