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Euro 2024 hosts Germany ease to victory against tournament favourites France

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 Mar 2024

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Florian Wirtz scored after only seven seconds to set Euro 2024 hosts Germany on their way to a 2-0 win over France in Lyon.

Bayer Leverkusen winger Wirtz crashed in a 20-yard effort after the ball was played upfield from kick-off by veteran midfielder Toni Kroos, returning from his three-year international retirement.

Arsenal midfielder Kai Havertz slotted in a second shortly after the restart as Julian Nagelsmann’s side closed out a much-needed win ahead of the summer showpiece tournament on home soil.

Germany – who had won only six of their last 22 internationals – got off to a flying start when Bayer Leverkusen winger Wirtz crashed home the opening goal just seconds after kick-off.

After the ball was played back to Kroos, the Real Madrid midfielder turned in the centre circle before clipping a pass up to Wirtz, who strode forwards before lashing a shot over Brice Samba from 20 yards.

With the home fans at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stunned, it took a while before Didier Deschamps’ side could regroup.

In the 20th minute, France worked the ball down the left, which eventually fell back to Marcus Thuram on the edge of the penalty area, but his curled shot flew wide of the top corner.

Kylian Mbappe then saw his chip at the near post palmed away by a strong hand from Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen as France continued to press Germany back.

Ousmane Dembele tested Ter Stegen again before Adrien Rabiot fired over from close range as Germany held out to the break.

Nagelsmann’s team talk seemed to have struck the right tone as Germany doubled their lead in the 49th minute.

Jamal Musiala was found in space as he darted into the left side of the penalty area before taking the ball around Samba and cutting it back for Havertz to slot in from close range.

France – whose only loss since the 2022 World Cup final was in a friendly away to Germany in September – again tried to lift themselves, with Dembele’s curling shot from the edge of the box flying just wide.

Germany remained resolute in taking the tempo down before Deschamps made several changes to freshen up his team – with Jonathan Clauss, Theo Hernandez, Eduardo Camavinga and Olivier Giroud all sent on.

While France – who had coasted through their Euro 2024 qualifying group – were seeing more of the ball, there was little end product in the final third.

Germany almost snatched a third with 10 minutes left when an angled drive from Stuttgart left-back Maximilian Mittelstadt, making his senior debut, was tipped past the far post by Samba.

The France keeper then produced another couple of good stops to deny first Thomas Muller and then substitute Deniz Undav.

France were almost gifted a late consolation when Mbappe’s cross through the penalty area from the left was inadvertently kicked onto his own arm by Mittelstadt – with the ball bouncing back towards goal before being shot against the crossbar by Germany defender Antonio Rudiger as he slid in to clear.

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