Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Austria 0-1 France: Les Bleus triumph in Euro 2024 opener after Wober own-goal

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 17 Jun 2024

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France started their quest for Euro 2024 glory with a narrow 1-0 victory over Austria after Max Wober’s first-half own-goal proved decisive in Dusseldorf.

The two-time European Championship winners had to wait until the 38th minute for their breakthrough, with Wober turning Kylian Mbappe’s cross into his own net.

Les Bleus held on in the second half to earn Didier Deschamps his 100th win in charge of France, though there was concern as Mbappe received lengthy treatment for a head injury late on before being withdrawn.

Deschamps will hope Mbappe is passed fit after that issue as France prepare for Friday’s clash with fellow Group D leaders Netherlands, who share top spot in the pool after overcoming Poland 2-1 on Sunday.

Deschamps’ men settled into their seamless groove early on, with Mbappe racing clear of the Austria defence before seeing his effort repelled by the strong palm of Patrick Pentz.

Yet for all of France’s dominance in possession, Austria remained resolute in defence and almost struck first against the run of play 10 minutes before the interval.

Christoph Baumgartner found himself unmarked inside the France box after Marcel Sabitzer’s deft knockdown, but was unable to find a way beyond the onrushing Mike Maignan when rushing a glorious chance.

Just two minutes later, Deschamps’ deadly attack showed their ruthless nature as Mbappe chopped inside before delivering towards the near post, where Wober inadvertently headed past the helpless Pentz.

Mbappe should have doubled France’s lead after the interval but somehow fired wide when one-on-one with Pentz, leaving the Real Madrid-bound forward still waiting for a first European Championship goal.

Les Bleus remained the most likely to find a decisive second goal but Theo Hernandez’s teasing delivery just evaded Antoine Greizmann before Marcus Thuram also went close.

Yet the battling victory was marred by the injury to Mbappe, who was forced off in the final minute of normal time after suffering a concerning blow to his nose when challenging for an aerial duel with Kevin Danso.

Mbappe’s wait for maiden Euros goal goes on

Mbappe produced an influential display but was far from his clinical best for Les Bleus as his first goal at this tournament continues to elude him.

The former Paris Saint-Germain attacker has now failed to convert any of his last 17 shots at the competition, in stark contrast to the 12 goals he has managed from 39 attempts at the World Cup.

His one-on-one opportunity in the second half had an expected goals tally (xG) of 0.6, second only behind Griezmann’s opportunity (0.75 xG) in the area 11 minutes later.

Aside from Mbappe, France were wasteful in the final third as a collective, registering just three shots on target in the contest from 14 attempts – underperforming their xG by 1.03.

Austria down, but certainly not out

Ralf Rangnick’s team can be proud of their defensive display against France’s star-studded attacking line, with their fighting efforts seeing them make the most tackles (27) of any side at the tournament so far.

However, their struggles against Les Bleus continued as Austria have now won just one of their last 11 meetings against France in all competitions, with that sole victory coming in 2008.

Austria will still hope to replicate their last-16 run at Euro 2020, their best-ever finish in the competition, and face Poland in Berlin on Friday before concluding their group campaign against the Netherlands.

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