France kept their hopes of remaining in the Nations League top flight alive as goals from Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud secured a 2-0 home win over Austria on Thursday.
Mbappe opened the scoring with a stunning goal before Giroud, who once again showed coach Didier Deschamps he’s more than a third-choice striker, sealed the world champions’ victory with a header.
France, who travel to Denmark on Sunday, climbed up to third in Group A1 with five points from as many games.
The victory came at a price, however, as defender Jules Kounde and goalkeeper Mike Maignan both picked up injuries and could join Karim Benzema, Hugo Lloris and Paul Pogba on the touchline.
The hosts, who had lost two of their previous four games and drawn two, were in full swing at the Stade de France.
Mbappe fired a shot into the top corner in the second minute but the try was disallowed for offside.
Aurelien Tchouameni’s attempt from just outside the box following a quick combination between Antoine Griezmann and Mbappe was knocked down by Austria keeper Patrick Pentz as Les Bleus increased the pressure.
Defender Kounde became the latest casualty in an injury-plagued squad when he limped off with a muscle problem and Maignan was replaced at half-time by Alphonse Areola with a calf pain.
Mbappe, whom Pentz failed to save after a one-two with Giroud, teased the Austrian defense with his pace and created space for his team-mates, Jonathan Clauss just missing a goal early in the second half.
Mbappe broke the deadlock with a cool finish after beating five defenders following a perfect pass from Giroud.
It spurred Austria on but they lacked accuracy in the box and it was France who scored again.
Giroud scored in the 65th minute from a spot-on Griezmann cross for his 49th international goal, two goals shy of Thierry Henry’s national record.
Amid a standing ovation from the Stade de France crowd, the AC Milan striker was replaced by Ousmane Dembele, leaving Deschamps – who only called up Giroud in Benzema’s absence – with a tricky decision ahead of November’s World Cup.
The Netherlands are close to the Nations League final
Cody Gakpo scored early and Steven Bergwijn added a second to earn the goal Netherlands 2-0 away win Poland on Thursday and took them within a point to win their Nations League group.
The unbeaten Dutch have now won four of their five Group A4 games and are three points clear of Belgium, who beat Wales 2-1.
The Dutch only need a draw at home to Belgium in Amsterdam on Sunday to secure a place in next year’s Nations League finals.
Gakpo’s 13th-minute opener at the Narodowy Stadium ended on a skilful pass as the striker had only to tap Denzel Dumfrie’s inch-perfect square pass home after the Polish defense was torn apart.
Bergwijn doubled the lead in the 60th minute, came from the left, played a clever one-two with substitute Vincent Janssen and flicked the ball skillfully into the net.
The Dutch deserved the victory, as their high pressure regularly robbed Poland of possession and allowed the visitors to dictate the tempo of the game.
But things would have been different if Poland’s half-time substitute Arkadiusz Milik hadn’t missed from close range following a Przemyslaw Frankowski cross shortly after his substitution.
It was Poland’s only clear chance but Milik inexplicably went all out to help the Netherlands concede their first goal in seven games this year.
Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal surprised by the choice of 38-year-old Ajax goalkeeper Remko Pasveer, making him the country’s second-oldest debutant after Sander Boschker, who was almost 40 when he scored his only in a World Cup warm-up match against Ghana International match in goal played friendly in 2010.
Van Gaal told Dutch television ahead of kick-off he was “excited” to see what Pasveer could add to the squad after a good start to the season with Ajax, but there wasn’t much for the keeper to do.
Croatia leads Group A1 with victory
Croatia Substitute Lovro Majer scored a late goal in return Denmark 2-1 on Thursday against the Group A1 leaders, with the winner coming two minutes after captain Christian Eriksen’s superb equalizer.
After beating the Danes in Copenhagen in June, the Croatians repeated the feat of taking 10 points from five games, a lead over Denmark in their bid for a place in the Nations League semi-finals.
Defender Borna Sosa, who was born in Zagreb’s Precko district and learned his trade at local club Dinamo before joining VfB Stuttgart, had scored the opening goal four minutes after the break with a strike from the edge of the box.
Although Denmark’s attack failed for most of the evening, a magic moment from Eriksen looked set to secure a point as he put in a brilliant shot on goal in the 77th minute.
The relief was short-lived, however, as Majer, who came on for Mateo Kovacic after Eriksen’s goal, picked up the ball on the edge of the area and spun it past keeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Elsewhere in the Nations League…
It’s been a busy night in League C. In Group C3, Azerbaijan provided a late win Slovakia. They had led for most of the game and immediately responded to Erik Jirka’s equalizer to take all three points.
In group C1, Turkey came from behind three times for a 3:3 draw Luxembourg In Istanbul. Lithuania Draw also 1-1 with Faroe Islands.
in league D, Andorra 2-0 winner against LiechtensteinWith Moldova beating Latvia 2-1 Kazakhstan hit too Belarus 2-1, although Askhat Tagybergen was sent off late with yellow-red.
Lithuania and Belarus are now both relegated to Group D.