Nations League: Antoine Griezmann brace leads France to comeback win over Germany
Antoine Griezmann scored twice as world champions France bounced back from a goal down to beat Germany 2-1 in the UEFA Nations League on Tuesday.
It was two penalties – one inside the first 15 minutes and another in the last 15 minutes – that decided the outcome of the fiery contest.
Back from a humiliating 0-3 defeat against the Dutch, Germany coach Joachim Low brought a massive change both in the formation and the players that started the game. And it looked to at last bring some relief in the German faces when French centre-back Presnel Kimpembe was controversially adjudged to have handled the ball inside his own penalty box.
Toni Kross stood up and scored only 14 minutes into the game and the world champions looked set for a long night in Paris. Germany dominated for the entire first half with France chasing the game.
But Griezmann brought his side back into the contest with a superb header from a Lucas Hernandez cross, before scoring the winner from the spot after Mats Hummels fell Blaise Matuidi.
Germany though should have scored at least thrice in the opening 45 minutes when they outplayed France in every corner of the field. Surprise starter Leroy Sane was at the heart of most those attacks that came on the counter on several occasions. He used his blistering pace to good use and not just earned the penalty from which Germany took the lead, but was also instrumental in connecting with Timo Werner and Serge Gnabry up-front.
It was his pass to Werner, which set the RB Leipzig forward through on goal, but French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was up to block the shot. Minutes later Matthias Ginter had a clear shot on goal after the ball from a corner fell to him. But Lloris was once again at hand to palm it away.
Kylian Mbappe came the closest to scoring for France but Griezmann’s pass for him was too powerful and Manuel Neuer claimed the ball safely into his hands.
The sides looked to have changed their form immediately after the break and France suddenly looked more threatening after chasing the ball for most of the first half. Mbappe came close again to scoring but his right-footer was out of target.
France though didn’t have to wait long. Hernandez found Griezmann with space inside the German box and the Atletico Madrid forward redirected the full-back’s cross into the goal to level the scores in the 62nd minute. They will soon take the lead 10 minutes from the final whistle with another questionable penalty. Greiezmann once again scored past Neuer to ensure the win.
“This is the difference between a team with a lot of confidence and a team like Germany which lacks some confidence and is maybe not as efficient,” said France coach Didier Deschamps after the hard-fought victory.
His side remains unbeaten in Group A1 with seven points from three games and leads the second-placed Netherlands by four points, having played a match more.
Meanwhile, Germany with the defeat in Paris further drowned into abysmal. They have now faced six defeats in a single calendar year for the first time and with back to back defeats against the Netherlands (0-3) and now against France, it is also the first time they have lost consecutive competitive matches since 2000.
They are positioned at the bottom of the group with one point from three matches and that has increased the pressure on coach Joachim Low, who oversaw their disastrous World Cup campaign and now faces the harsh possibility of being relegated into League B.